They say necessity is the mother of invention. It tracks too. In a nation’s time of need we tend to take giant leaps forward in technology. There’s countless stories of off-the-wall bush mechanic repairs only made possible by the necessity of being absolutely buggered. Heck, it’s where half the recovery products on the market today come from. But what if you’re a high-flying executive at Winnebago in the 1970s. There’s a whole heap of Korean War Siksorky S-55 helicopters laying around. And you desperately need an idea to impress the board? The answer is simple, build one of the most ludicrous campers of all time.
In all fairness, Winnebago themselves didn’t invent the concept. The original idea was cooked up by a Floridian company Orlando Helicopter Airways and called the Heli Camper. The unique cab-over design of the Siksorky helicopters left them with a huge internal space perfect for rich outdoor enthusiasts to have a mobile base camp. Winnebago at the time were looking for something of a crown jewel to flex their muscles so immediately reached out and got to work on a more refined fitout, and a huge marketing campaign.
The fitout was as absurd as the concept. People with deep enough pockets to purchase a Heli Home were treated to a full bathroom with shower, a 3.5kW generator, AC, a furnace, even a TV. There was two configurations of camper depending on the base helicopter you ticked the box. You could even option up for floats instead of wheeled landing gear allowing you to plonk your camper down smack bang in the middle of that back country lake. Far from the late night blaring Jimmy Barnes you normally get in a packed campground.
“The Heli Home would cost the equivelant of a cool $3,500,000AUD”
Power was around the 1500hp mark, and fuel economy a similarly ridiculous 100L/100km. And the price an eye watering $300,000USD. Converted to the Aussie dollar, and accounting for inflation, the Heli Home would cost the equivelant of a cool $3,500,000AUD. It’s not surprising then that between the Orlando Helicopter Airways and Winnebago only a handful of converted campers were sold with none remaining today.
We’re confident if you’ve got that kind of cash to splash on a camper these days it shouldn’t be too hard to find someone to do a similar build. Just let us take it for a spin hey? Surely it’s not that hard to fly a helicopter.