Raymond E. Umbaugh founded Umbaugh Aircraft Corporation of Ocala,
Florida in 1957. He build and sold several single-seat Bensen
Gyrocopters before he started the design of a tandem two-seat
gyrocopter in 1958. The first flight of the prototype Umbaugh 18 took
place in August 1959, thereafter Fairchild Engine and Airplane
Corporation was to develop and produce the model in quantity.
The all-metal prototype flew initially with one vertical tail, than a
butterfly tail and finally with a tailplane with three vertical fins
on top of it, the middle fin could turn. The engine powered a pusher
airscrew with the three-blade rotor being pre-rotated for vertical
take-off, also called "jump-start". The rotor and control
systems were extremely simple having swashplate control for the
blades, and as the rotor was not powered inflight no anti-torque
system was necessary. Longitudinal and lateral control was affected
by mechanically tilting the rotor plane.
During 1960 Fairchild produced five development airframes under the
designation Flymobil. The gyrocopter received its Type Certificate in
September 1961. The contract between Umbaugh and Fairchild planned
the production of 10,000 U-18, however this was not to materialize.
Umbaugh Aircraft Corporation ceased operations in 1962; in 1964 Air
& Space Manufacturing Inc. of Muncie, Indiana was founded and
took over series production.
Early 1965 the production certificate was issued for the Air &
Space U-18A differing only in detail from the earlier Umbaugh 18,
except that it was fitted with rotor blades made of wood, reinforced
with glass fiber. By late 1965 over 100 were claimed to have been
build but there have been reports that only between 65 and 75 were
actually completed and delivered to customers. Air & Space ran
into financial trouble and ceased operations after bankruptcy in 1966.