After building and learning to fly his own helicopter, Mark DiCiero founded Classic Rotors in 1992. With the support of many volunteers and donations, Classic Rotors now has over 45 rotorcraft and attends more than a dozen air shows per year.
Classic Rotors is a non-profit 501(c)3, all-volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation of rare and vintage rotorcraft. Our mission is to preserve these rotorcraft as a tribute to the pioneers who risked so much to develop vertical flight technology. A key objective is to provide education about, and demonstrate various designs in rotor technology including tandem, co-axial, conventional (single), sync (intermeshing) and tip powered.
Based in Ramona, California, Classic Rotors has four helicopters under restoration including a Sikorsky H19 / S55, Hiller UH12, Kaman HOK, and a Piasecki HUP-3. If practical, Classic Rotors will maintain rotorcraft in flying condition and currently has the following flight worthy helicopters: Vertol H21B (tandem rotor), Kamov Ka26 (co-axial rotor), Hiller UH12, Piasecki HUP-1 and a Sikorsky H19. The H21B and HUP-1 are the only examples still flying. The KA26 is the only one certified to fly in the United States.
We have additional rotorcraft, including some unique one-of-a-kind and very rare rotorcraft such as the MonteCopter model 15 tri-phibian, the four-place Jovair YH30 (McCulloch MC4 tandem rotor), the Brantly 305, the Sikorsky H03S (used In Korea for rescue), the Ram-Jet powered Hiller Hornet, and the Rotorway 133 Scorpion.
As one of only four dedicated rotorcraft museums in the world, and in keeping with our mission to honor the pioneers of rotorcraft design, Classic Rotors plans to acquire and display additional helicopters manufactured by Bell, Hughes, Robinson and others.
Classic Rotors is developing a new Museum Center at the Ramona Airport to complement our restoration facility. With completion scheduled for 2024, we expect to have 25-30 different rotorcraft on display with commitments for an additional 10 helicopters.
Additionally, we are planning to utilize a mobile "History of Helicopters" museum for display at air shows. This mobile presentation facility will allow the display of smaller helicopters rarely seen by today’s generation, and provide an educational center including interactive demos and historical videos.
Classic Rotors participates in local community programs and supports various organizations including the Scouts, Young Eagles, local schools and Community Colleges (A&P programs). We are associated with the Hiller Aviation Museum, Experimental Aircraft Association, Naval Helicopter Association and the Canadian Museum of Flight.
Classic Rotors memberships begin at $50 for ‘Whirlybirds’ (age 14 and under), and $100 for ‘Individuals’. Members may participate in air show activities. We are seeking new members with A&P certification who would like to direct a restoration project.
Since we are an all-volunteer, non-profit museum, our success is based on donations, memberships, sponsors and the great support of our dedicated volunteers. We have limited funds to acquire helicopters and support equipment, but have the knowledge, experience and dedication to restore aircraft and engines to flight worthy status or static display.
In association with the Hiller Aviation Museum, in San Carlos California, Classic Rotors just established an historic first event with four generations of tandem rotor helicopters including the HUP, H21, CH46 and CH47. This event, a year in preparation, was made possible with the assistance of North Island Naval Air Station, San Diego and the Army Air Guard, Stockton, California. This "Tribute to Frank Piasecki" was the first time in history these four helicopters of the same heritage have been airborne together.
We are proud to announce that we have participated in producing an IMAX film, ‘STRAIGHT UP – Helicopters in Action’ for the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum with a release date of Sep. 18th, 2002. The H21 has also seen parts in the films ‘Godzilla’ and ‘MegaForce’.