Copter Recovery Guide

(return to Rocketry Blog Main Page)


When I returned to rocketry as a BAR I became facinated with helicopter recovery. Helicopter recovery is challenging and rewarding alternate recovery for rockets. Some rockets use rotors to create lift and slowly and gently recover the rocket. Other rockets may use they gyro principle with existing fins or even break apart and float down like a maple seed. I am always pleased with the reaction of the crowd at launches when they see a successful helicopter recovery. I have created this guide to help others consider trying this form of recovery.


How are the recovery devices deployed?

Helicopter and Gyro recovery models use various ingenious ways to deploy their recovery devices.
The most common method for a standard helicopter is the “burn string”. The “burn string”, usually made from elastic thread, is strung through holes in the body tube above the motor and then wrapped around the rotors holding them down against the body tube. When the motor fires its ejection charge the string burns through releasing the rotors which are usually pulled up by rubber bands.
The Chicago Chopper and some other helicopter style rockets simply use the ejection charge to separate the body tube in such away the the rotors are free.
Maple seed recovery rockets are usually made up of two body tubes that separate creating a “spin unit” and a “stabilizer unit” that both gently spin to the ground.
Other rockets like the Gyroc have tabs on the hinged fins that are held in place by the motor. When the motor is ejected from the rocket the tabs release allowing the hinged fins to snap into recovery spin mode. You can view some of my gyro/copter rockets and some of fellow rocketeers at my

Copter Recovery Gallery.


Video 600fps of Copter Recovery at NARAM 52


Great Tutorial From Apogee on Construction of the rocket called “Rotary Revolution”

Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

Article from Apogee “Peak of Flight” Newsletter on British Copters

Currently Available Kits

Apogee Mini Copter

Semroc Heli-Roctor

Estes Flip Flyer

Fliskits Rose-A-Roc

QCR Helo Kits

GYROC (Look under Kits about halfway down the page)

Texas Twister


Estes Flutter-By

Fliskits MMX Tiddlywink

Pancakes – now OOP

NEW! The CYCLONE (now a kit!!! This kit by Chris Michielssen out performs all of my scratch builds of the Cyclone. I highly recommend it)

Available Classic Kits


Helio Copter (Estes) -(currently unavailable)

Cosmic Cobra (Estes)

Skywinder (Estes)-(currently unavailable)

Plans for rockets using helio or gyro recovery


Cyclone (mapleseed recovery)

Whirl-A-While (pdf file)



Standard Rot-A-Roc

Chicago Chopper

Tazmanian Devil

Moon Satellite

Priority Stealth

Rotacrock 20 (page 4 of newsletter)

Midwest Weedwhacker (on page 5)

Classic Plans to Scratch Build


Kopter Rotor Recovery

Jet-i-son Rotor Glider




Rocketry Blog Helicopter Posts


My Post on the Cyclone
My EMRR review on the Cyclone
My Post on the Gyroc
Richard Boyette’s MegaGyroc
My Fliskits Rose-a-roc build thread at TRF

Helicopter recovery on TRF

Helicopter search on EMRR

My Cone copter recovery design – The TeePee Twister



NAR Competition Rules

George Gassaways B Helicopter Duration Page

FAI(Federation Aeronautique Internationale)
Information on the S9 Gyrocopter Duration
Aeromodeling Rules
S9 Group at Yahoo


Info on Monocopters at Rocket Dungeon

Monocopter info at EMRR

G powered Monocopter Launch

Building Supplies


Aerolite Airfoils

Du-Bro Hinges

1934 Copter Recovery Concept

The Roton – research Rotor recovery vehicle


Back to the Future

The Roton Concept


Roton Flight Video

1 Response to Copter Recovery Guide

  1. Pingback: Copter Recovery and Vortex Ring Chutes « The Rocketry Blog

Comments are closed.