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  Aircraft History, Specification and Information
Helio Courier
1974 Helio H-295 Super Courier - C-FZTR (sn 1473)
C/STOL (controlled shorth-takeoff and landing)
Photo taken Jul. 2, 2010
Penticton, BC - Canada (Seaplane Base)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Helio H-295 C-GHDT
1967 Helio H-295 Super Courier - C-GHDT (sn 1401)
owned by North-Wright Airways Ltd.
Photo taken Jul. 11, 2010
Kugluktuk (Coppermine), NU - Canada (YCO / CYCO)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
1954 Helio H-391B Courier - N242B (Serial Number 001)
Photo taken Jul. 29, 2010
Oshkosh (EAA AirVenture Fly-in), WI - USA (OSH / KOSH)
Photo © AirplaneMart.com
Helio HT-295 Trigear Courier - N5399G (sn 1260)
Photo taken Mar. 23, 2015
Whiteman, CA - USA (WHP / KWHP)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
1967 Helio H-250 Courier - C-FEFT (sn 2533)
Photo taken Jul. 29, 2010
Oshkosh (EAA AirVenture Fly-in), WI - USA (OSH / KOSH)
Photo © AirplaneMart.com
1967 Helio H-295 Super Courier - N60JA (sn 1240) - JAARS
N60JA was damaged beyond repair by a severe storm at the 2011 Sun 'N Fun in Lakeland Florida.
Photo taken Jul. 27, 2010
Oshkosh (EAA AirVenture Fly-in), WI - USA (OSH / KOSH)
Photo © AirplaneMart.com

The Helio Courier is a light C/STOL utility aircraft designed in 1949.

Around 500 of these aircraft were manufactured in Pittsburg, Kansas from 1954 until 1974 by the Helio Aircraft Company. During the early 1980s, new owners (Helio Aircraft Ltd.) made an attempt to build new aircraft with direct-drive Lycoming engines, to replace troublesome and expensive geared engines. In a further effort to reduce weight, a new composite landing gear was featured. The new models also featured modest winglets. Two models were produced, the H-800 and H-700. A total of 18 aircraft were built. The rights to the Helio Stallion and Helio Courier were acquired by Helio Aircraft of Prescott, Arizona, and will soon be returned to production.

Design and development

Otto C. Koppen designed aircraft for the Stout Metal Airplane Division of the Ford Motor Company, including the Ford Flivver, an aircraft that was supposed to be mass-produced by Ford. Koppen went on to design the Helio Courier.

The all aluminum-clad airframe features a welded 15G steel-tube center section fuselage, with shoulder harnesses that protect the occupants in an emergency. The wings are of conventional aluminum construction, but feature Handley Page leading-edge slats that deploy automatically when the aircraft's airspeed falls below a certain value — 55 to 60 miles per hour (89 to 97 km/h). The slats contribute to the Helio's outstanding short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability, and allow for stall/spin-proof controllable flight. In conjunction with the leading-edge slats, 74% of the trailing edge incorporates high-lift slotted flaps, which together with interrupter blades atop each wing when roll control is lost at very low airspeed, allows for a tight turning radius. The Helio Courier could maintain control at speeds as low as 27 miles per hour (43 km/h).

The design of the Helio features a large vertical tail surface and rudder for control at very low flight speeds. However, on conventional geared aircraft (taildraggers), the airplane tends to be sensitive to crosswinds, thus a crosswind gear option is available, allowing the main tires to caster left or right 20 degrees, increasing the crosswind component to 25 miles per hour (40 km/h). The Helio has its main gear placement far forward of the cabin, enabling hard braking on unprepared landing areas. A tricycle-gear model was produced, but is unsuitable for unprepared rough terrain.

Helios are also capable of being equipped with floats; both straight and amphibious floats being offered.

Operational history

Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and Lynn Garrison with Helio Courier G-ARMU used for Von Richthofen and Brown, 1970
With a minimum-control speed of around 28 mph, the Courier is perfectly suited for confined off-airport operations. The first one was certified in July 1954 and powered by the 260 hp Lycoming GO-435-C2B2. The first production Courier (Serial Number 001, dubbed "Ol' Number 1")C-G001 was previously owned and operated by JAARS as N242B until 2010. Jaars Helio Courier has been a frequent airshow performer at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh for decades, displaying its slow flight capability in front of thousands and serving as a drop plane for the Liberty Parachute Team.

In 1957, a "Strato Courier" set an altitude record over Mexico City, Mexico at 31,200 ft powered by a geared Lycoming GSO-480-A1A5 (340 hp), only one was built. The Super Courier, a more powerful derivative, was used by the US Air Force from 1958 onward, by the US Army Special Forces in the 1960s and 1970s and by Air America during the Vietnam War as the U-10. In U.S. Army and Air Force service, the U-10 Super Courier was used for liaison work, light cargo and supply drops, psychological warfare, forward air control (Air Force), insertion and extraction land and sea (Army) and reconnaissance. Various versions were produced up through the 1980s, including turbine-powered variants.

The Super Courier saw military service in the United States as the U-10 (ex L-28). Over 120 were built: The L-28A (2, later redesignated U-10A), U-10A (26), U-10B extended range and paratrooper doors (57), and the U-10D with a higher gross weight(36). There was no U-10C.

Helios remain very popular among bush pilots in Canada (32 current) and Alaska and missionaries who fly into rough, relatively unprepared jungle airstrips because of its superior STOL abilities. Some operators use the Helio Couriers for aerial observation. Both Winged Vision Inc. of Gaithersburg, Maryland and the Pima County, Arizona, Sheriff's Department each operate two of the rare tri-gear model and mount gyro-stabilized cameras under the wing for aerial observation. Pima County mounts a FLIR camera for law enforcement, and Winged Vision mounts a high definition television camera for coverage of major sports events.


  • Koppen-Bollinger Helioplane.
    Original prototype soon re-named Helio Courier.
  • Helioplane Four.
    unknown possible variant.
  • Helioplane Two.
    unknown possible variant.
  • Hi-Vision Courier.
    unknown possible variant.
  • H-291.
    Prototype, one built.
  • H-295 Super Courier.
    Variant with a Lycoming GO-480-G1D6, purchased by USAF as U-10D, 173 built.
  • HT-295 Super Courier or Trigear Courier.
    H-295 with tricycle undercarriage, 19 built.
  • H-250 Courier.
    H-295 with lengthened fuselage and Lycoming O-540-A1A5 engine, 41 built.
  • H-391 Courier.
    Prototype with Lycoming GO-435-C2 engine, one built.
  • H-391B Courier.
    Production version of H-391, 102 built.
  • H-392 Strato Courier.
    High-altitude version of H-391 with Lycoming GSO-480-A1A5 engine (340 hp).
  • H-395 Super Courier.
    H-391B with Lycoming GO-480-G1D6, purchased by USAF as U-10A and U-10B, 138 built.
  • H-395A Courier.
    Variant of the H-395 with a Lycoming GO-435-C2B6 engine, seven built.
  • H-500 Twin Courier.
    Twin-engined H-395 for the CIA. Very little information available except seven delivered to the CIA under front designation U-5.
  • Helio H-550 Stallion.
    Turboprop powered development
  • H-580 Twin Courier.
    A longer nosed H-500 with twin wing mounted piston engines, five built.
  • H-634 Twin Stallion
    Planned twin Allison C250 powered Stallion.
  • H-700 Courier.
    H-295 with redesigned wing and undercarriage and Lycoming TIO-540-J2B engine.
  • H-800 Courier.
    H-700 with Lycoming IO-720-A1B engine, 18 built (H-700 and H-800 together).
  • L-24 Courier.
    Military version of the H-391 Courier.
  • L-28 Courier.
    Military version of the H-395 Courier.
  • U-5 Twin Courier.
    Probable front designation for CIA Twin Couriers.
  • U-10 Courier
    Re-designation of L-28 Courier
  • U-24 Stallion
    Military designation for H-550 Stallion


Military operators

  • Bophuthatswana
    Bophuthatswana Air Force – 2 operated from 1982.
  • Italy
    Italian Air Force operated 1 Helio Courier aircraft from 1961 to 1982
  • Peru
  • Thailand
    Royal Thai Air Force
  • United States
    Civil Air Patrol
    United States Air Force
    4410th Combat Crew Training Squadron
    United States Army

Civil operators

  • Air America
  • North-Wright Airways

Preserved aircraft

  • U-10A Courier, AF Ser. No. 62-3606, (c/n 540) preserved at the Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park, Hurlburt Field, Florida
  • U-10B Courier, AF Ser. No. 63-13096, on display at the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB, Georgia
  • U-10B Courier, 7135 (c/n 576), ex-USAF / AF Ser. No. 66-14332 on display at the Royal Thai Air Force Museum, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • U-10D Super Courier, AF Ser. No. 66-14360, on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
  • HT-295 Helio Super Courier (c/n 1711) Fully operational, based in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. (Owner: Josef Martin, Dabmar Manufacturing Company, Hattingspruit, KZN, South Africa)

Specifications (U-10D Super Courier)

General characteristics

Crew: one, pilot
Capacity: 5 passengers
Length: 30 ft 8 in (9.35 m)
Wingspan: 39 ft 0 in (11.89 m)
Height: 8 ft 10 in (2.69 m)
Loaded weight: 3,600 lb (1,636 kg)
Useful load: 1,320 lb (600 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming GO-480-G1D6 geared 6-cylinder engine, 295 hp (220 kW)


Maximum speed: 148 knots (170 mph, 288 km/h)
Range: 950 nm (1,380 miles, 1,760 km) with 120 gal. fuel
Service ceiling: 20,500 ft (6,250 m)
Rate of climb: 1,200 ft/min (6.1 m/s)

Last updated January 26, 2016  
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Helio Courier".
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