Paul Allen’s MD 902 Helicopter

I happened to take photos of this very unusual helicopter as it was flying in to the Seward Airport on August 26. I wonder if the pilot was Paul Allen? We will probably never know.

The helicopter is registered to Vulcan Aircraft of Seattle, a company owned by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and owner of the super yacht Octopus that was anchored in Resurrection Bay and then moored at the cruise ship dock for several days.

The MD 902 is a light twin utility helicopter designed by McDonnell Helicopter Systems. Unlike most helicopters, there is no tail rotor. Instead, a specialized stabilizing system uses a fan exhaust directed out slots in the tail boom. This system results in increased safety, lower noise, and increased performance and control according to the WikiPedia site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MD_Helicopters_MD_Explorer.

It was repainted in vibrant patriotic colors of red, white, and blue sometime since 2005, when a photo of it was taken in Spain, showing it painted black and tan. http://www.airliners.net/photo/MD-Helicopters-MD-902/0880074/

The other two red, white, and blue helicopters on the second deck of the Octopus both had tail rotors, so this was a third helicopter associated with the Octopus.

I appreciate Allen’s patriotic color scheme and the American flags flying proudly on the ship. Very few large vessels fly an American flag; most are foreign-flagged. Mr. Allen worked very hard, saw an opportunity in a fledgling industry and succeeded, wildly beyond his dreams. He is a generous philanthropist and has created and sponsored many important causes and foundations. Google “Paul Allen philanthropy” for more information.


It was fascinating to see the Octopus and the MD 902 in our little town. I wish them well on their explorations of the Northwest Passage and beyond.

submitted by Carol Griswold





One Comment

  1. His current, and probably his most expensive venture ever is here: http://www.stratolaunch.com/.

    Paul is funding the design of a cheaper way to launch satellites into low earth orbit. It is currently being built in the Mojave Desert using the proven technology he already developed with legendary aerospace engineers Burt Rutan. In 2004 they sent two civilians into space with the first privately funded spacecraft, and for a measly 25 million dollars. Three manned space flights were achieved, 2 of them within 5 days of each other, winning them the first Ansari X-Prize.