American RC Helicopters inc

The company was founded in Mission Viejo, CA by John Simone and started building machines in 1976 with their first helicopter being the ‘Revolution 40’; this had either a red or blue anodised aluminium frame with fixed pitch rotor head then upgraded to collective pitch.  In later years there was to be some confusion over the name as in 2007 a company called American RC helicopters started producing Kavan spares and helicopters.

American RC Helicopters went on to produce a line of 40 and 60 size fixed, collective pitch and rigid rotor machines. In 1977 JS Jnr won the national with a fixed pitch Revolution II and was reported to have also carried out a 'perfect' loop.  Mike Mas flew in the expert class in 1978 and was reported to have 'for a joke' flown with a 'zig-zag' bent flybar; however the paddles were still correctly aligned.  Following this in 1979, American's took the top spots (Mike Mas, John Simone, Lowell Draper) in the first ever West Coast National Helicopter Championships held in Tustin CA. Additionally, the year before saw their 'rigid rotor' head appear and was the first helicopter commercially available with this system along with a true 'autorotation' clutch, both fitted to the revolution II.  However, Kalt are also credited with developing the freewheel hub by Yuki Oki for carrying out Autorotation flight; though as yet no dates either way to confirm, or not.

The following report is from John Jnr himself as he remembers those early years......

I’ll share another first with you, one thing that I believe has never been acknowledged was that American R/C Helicopters designed, tested, and produced the World’s first (to my knowledge) true autorotation device for R/C helicopters. I forget the year we introduced it on the Revolution Commander model (maybe 1979?), but like the first true loop I performed in competition I also performed the first true autorotation in competition, the NRCHA Nationals if memory serves me correctly. That was so many years ago I can’t remember if that was the event or not, but the crowd was stunned when I performed the manoeuvre for the first time. I remember climbing to an altitude of about 600 ft, called out the manoeuvre to the judges and then shut down the engine. The entire area was so silent you could have heard a pin drop, and for the next 20 to 30 seconds I flew the helicopter down to what was a perfect flare and soft landing. Over the next two day each time I flew and performed the manoeuvre the cameras clicked away, as did the video tape. We knew every manufacturer would copy it once they realized the tail rotor wasn’t spinning when I was descending. It wasn’t but a few weeks after that GMP, Kavan, Horizon, Kalt, and others followed with their own versions. However the same principal (design concept/approach) and application is still used today by the current manufacturers. We had considered applying for a Patent, but didn’t feel like having to take everyone to court to protect our intellectual property as we would probably still be in court today!

One more interesting fact is that my Father and I started up Kavan’s US operation in Costa Mesa California when he entered the market in the US. That relationship ended about six months in as we soon realized we were only being used to gain a foot hold, and we would be cast aside once he brought his people from Germany over to run everything. That separation from Kavan is what lead my Father and I to start American R/C Helicopters. The business was started on a shoe string budget (10k), and the first production lot was for 100 units. The first trade show we participated in was Toledo (“the weak signals”), this was the largest trade show in America at the time. I remember calling my father after the first day telling him that he had better figure out a way to double the production to 200 units because I had already taken orders for over a 100! Thus the beginning and launch of American R/C inc and the Revolution 40.

American RC Helicopters Inc Timeline

Below is a list of introduction dates for helicopters and 'major' upgrades; I have not included minor kit variations, change of body colours etc.

 
1976 Revolution 40
1978 Revolution II - Hughes 500 - JetRanger
1979 Commander
1981 Mantis / Super Mantis
1983 Blue Thunder
1984 Eagle

Note that to help the Tyro, American RC brought out a wide tricycle undercarriage that allowed the helicopter (on smooth ground) to move around or land whilst still moving without it tipping over; 'modelled' by the Commander photo above.

The revolution was also a first in having a Titanium main shaft which unfortunately was very expensive at about $10 however, they did offer a discount of $5 if the bent old one was returned as they then could straighten it for further use.

December 1983 article covering John Jr's film flying and the soon to be released Blue Thunder helicopter.

1984 Catalogue  -  Showing the 'new' eagle plus Mantis / Super Mantis but no other helicopters?

Loc and start advert

Featured a 'one way' bearing inside the starter wand that was positioned over a 'stub' shaft and thus did not require any force to keep it in contact when the starter was operated; this method was many years later to become standard on just about all helicopters.

Four Blade head

No other info held

The company was based at Airport Road, Oceanside, California and the company was doing well when in mid 1985 a light aircraft crashed into the factory destroying the company premises; such was the extent of the damage plus other commitments, it was decided to wind up RC helicopter production and so ended (prematurely) what could have been a successful line of helicopters.

Historic note; John Simone Senior passed away 11 Sep 2005 of the big C but as of 2010 JS junior is an active RC helicopter flyer and still flies his 'American' helicopters and has one of the few remaining Eagles.

 

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