Bensen X-25A Gyrocopter

  • By

In early 1968, the U.S. Air Force ordered three X-25 type aircraft to test methods of improving the odds of a downed flyer’s escape. At the time, the USAF was suffering heavy losses in the Rolling Thunder air campaign over North Vietnam.

The unpowered Bensen X-25 Discretionary Descent Vehicle (also called a “Gyroglider”) theoretically could be stowed in an aircraft, ejected with the pilot and deployed during descent. Its rotary wings would be brought up to speed as it fell, and the pilot would fly it as an autogyro to a safer landing area.

The X-25A Gyrocopter on display represented a more advanced concept with a limited "fly-away" capability. Though similar to the X-25, the X-25A had a more robust structure, and it was powered by a small engine. The two-seat X-25B was originally used as an unpowered, towed trainer, but it was later fitted with an engine.

Tests proved that pilots could be quickly and easily trained to fly the X-25. Even so, with the air war in Vietnam winding down -- and doubts about its operational feasibility -- the X-25 program ended. The X-25A was delivered to the museum in 1969.

1 or 2
Engine: One McCullough 4318G of 90 hp
Maximum speed: 80 mph
Range: 90 miles
Weight: 547 lbs. maximum

Click here to return to the Research & Development Gallery.

All visitors may be screened with a metal detector upon entry. In addition, all bags are subject to search and may be placed through an X-Ray machine. Weapons are not permitted including pocket knives.
  • Visitor Photography Notice

    Notice: Visitors may be filmed, photographed or recorded by the U.S. Air Force for educational and promotional uses, including for posting on public websites and social media.  
    Individuals are permitted to take their own photographs or videos while touring the museum.


Note: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the National Museum of the USAF, the U.S. Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external website, or the information, products or services contained therein.