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How do you say Gyrocopter?
To those not familiar with the term, you can understand why the pronunciation of the "gyrocopter" could misinterpreted as "guy-ro-copter".
The correct way to say gyrocopter is another of those quirky English language things where letters can have two different sounds - "ji-ro-copter" is in fact the correct pronunciation!
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An introduction to gyrocopters
Gyrocopters were once seen as dangerous.... Modern versions are anything but!
Did you know there are many commercial pilots that fly those big A-330's as well as many other "people carriers" across the globe. Yet on their days off, instead of staying on the ground, they choose to strap into their gyrocopters and have fun blasting around the sky.
With the freedom of a gyrocopter, you can fly a little bit lower, it's open cockpit, and you can slow down and have a good look around. It's best described like being on an aerial dirt bike.
The best thing about flying the gyroplane is that it's a fun, responsive aircraft and you have a great field of view. Legally (in most countries) you can fly at 300ft, even lower if you have the permission of the landowner. You best get some training on low level flying first though as there is much to consider! Then, it's just the feeling of freedom.
It's best described as being like a motor bike. If you want to go touring you buy a touring bike, if you want to go bush bashing and have fun, you buy a dirt bike. That's why the gyrocopter is often described as the "dirt bike of the air".
The introduction of factory-built gyrocopters has seen an increase in the number of pilots flying these aircraft. Some early home built gyrocopters and kit-built gyrocopters had a chequered safety record mainly due to their construction and design, some modern gyro versions are fully certified in Europe and many are operated by government agencies.
Flying a gyro is more like piloting a fixed wing aircraft than a helicopter, though they are capable of landing like a helicopter with the assistance of a bit of headwind though like any aircraft, they have to be flown within their envelope.
The flight envelope is fairly narrow so there are some things you just cannot do, but there are also some things you can't do in a plane. For example you shouldn't stall a plane and in a Gyrocopter you never push over and unload the rotor - almost opposites.
You also have to be careful at the back of the power curve. If you get slow with a high angle of attack there is a lot of drag from the rotor disk so even with full power unless you can get the nose down and accelerate the rotors, you just wallow into the ground - feeling much like having too much flaps with not enough power for fixed wingers. It's not a fun place to be and can result in eating some dirt!
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The modern gyrocopter
Gyrocopters are nowhere near as hard to fly as a helicopter though and they are definitely cheaper to fly and maintain than a helicopter. The only similarity is that they both have rotor blade systems. Past that they are two completely different beasts to fly.
You can be a very good gyro pilot and still not be able to fly a helicopter whereas a fixed wing pilot can transition to a gyro fairly quickly.
Flying a plane is definitely a different experience to any gyrocopter. On a typical modern gyroplane, after starting the engine, the pre-rotator engages to spin the blades up.
The swishing overhead is a little disconcerting at first then the RPM reaches around 220 smoothing things out, the pre-rotator disengages and take off roll begins.
Typically lift-off is around 30-50kts depending on your autogyro and some forward stick is required to accelerate and prevent a high angle of attack situation developing. Rotor RPM varies between 320rpm and 370rpm depending on model and weight.
Once airborne, a gyrocopter is incredibly maneuverable, often referred to as an aerial dirt bike because of their sheer fun factor. Landings are another fun part, with steep approaches and almost zero ground speed touchdowns possible, no-where near as nerve racking as any fixed wing touchdown.
If you're a fixed wing pilot, transitioning requires a student to learn more-so the limitations of the gyrocopter rather than the aspects of flight. This usually takes about 10 hours for the
average fixed wing pilot to feel comfortable flying a gyrocopter. You have to unlearn some things you take for granted in fixed wing flying like pushing forwards at the top of climb.
In a gyro you reduce power to reduce the climb, the nose naturally drops and then you retrim to maintain altitude.
Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva set out to create an aircraft that could fly safely at slow speeds and the autogyro was first flown on January 9, 1923, at Cuatro Vientos Airfield in Madrid. De la Cierva's aircraft resembled the fixed-wing aircraft of the day, with a front-mounted engine and propeller in a tractor configuration to pull the aircraft through the air.
The gyrocopter is a modern tool of the flight, which besides of diverse characteristics: low operating cost, special flight abilities etc... is the safest method today of flying in the world!
A Gyrocopter does not want to be a substitute for either airplane or helicopter however demonstrates her exceptional ability in several areas.
- ■Looking to be a sport pilot for the lowest outlay possible (license and aircraft)?
- ■Want to spend a good chunk of time flying with a Gyrocopter and above all wants to feel safe.
- ■Travel short or long distances at speed in small or large gyrocopters.
- ■Travel in solitude or with passengers passengers, for fun or to work.
- ■Fly all year round with optional cabin equipped models.
- ■No need to be a slave to maintenance, gyrocopters are low maintenance and virtually trouble free.
Safety above all
Flight safety has always been the main objective of aircraft developers and gyrocopters are no exception. This of course needs to encompass all aspects of flight - speed, takeoff and landing distance, number of passengers, weather conditions.
Due to Gyrocopter's revolutionary principles of being in constant autorotation, results in the Gyrocopter being the safest aircraft by design in the world.
Unlike the two other common methods of flight: traditional airplane and the helicopter, it is said that the gyrocopter has a lower incidence of failures. The most important thing that many manufacturers don't like to talk about is the forced landing. A fixed wing craft usually needs 100 meters plus, helicopters vary depending on the situation in relationship to their height/speed "dead mans curve" factor, and gyrocopters need only 0-5m landing roll.
Gyrocopters are fun to fly...
Low-level controlled flight demonstration by an experienced gyrocopter pilot. This example of high performance flying shows the versatility of a gyrocopter performing equivalent aerobatic maneuvers of what a helicopter would normally perform.
Gyrocopter builders, start here!
Build your own gyrocopter, design your own gyrocopter, fly your own gyrocopter ...
Pusher props, pullers, gyro gliders, jump take-off - VTOL style, drop keel, Vibration Isolation System gyrocopters. The list goes on with new designs and ideas continuing to evolve.
Fortunately we now have a huge selection of engines to choose from for our gyrocopters. The selection ranges from your typical two stroke, a four stroke, electric, turbines and Mazda Rotarys.
One of the most important parts of a gyrocopter are the wings! Yes, you heard right - rotorblades are the wings of a gyrocopter. This is why they are also known as rotary-wing-aircraft.
Visit our download store for instant access to some of the classic and modern gyrocopter plans and designs. You can build from these plans or modify to create your own design.
Gyroplane Training - What’s the difference?
IF YOU INTEND to fly a gyroplane then just like any other conversion to type there are differences in the flight characteristics and handling idiosyncrasies that are best known about before they bite you, rather than after.
When I attended the Airbus course in Toulouse they presented us with a laminated business card on which they had inscribed the six Golden Rules applicable to this all new fly-by-wire concept.
Being French they did not include Murphy’s rule number one – if it can go wrong it will go wrong! This is why we all need training to minimise the chance of a problem occurring and being best placed to deal with it when it happens.
Understanding the fundamentals of your aircraft is vital whether it be a gyroplane or an Airbus - so let’s consider what Golden Rules might apply when you choose to aviate in the safest form of flying machine known to man.
1. Rotor speed not ground speed is required to get you airborne. Accelerate gently with the stick fully back, ensuring that your rotors are accelerating correctly until the nose of your aircraft lifts off the ground. Then continue to accelerate in a low nose attitude (nose wheel just off the ground) until reaching climb speed.
2. Your aircraft will not climb without sufficient airspeed. This machine is not a helicopter and despite having a rotor it flies more like a conventional aircraft. Maintain the correct attitude and airspeed, as without these even full power will not create a climb!
3. The only thing that changes rotor speed is the weight being carried. Weight carried will apparently increase in a tight turn or rapid flare due to ‘G’ loading so the
rotor speed increases.
Conversely, some extreme manoeuvres can also cause a reduction of ‘G’ loading which can reduce rotor speed to the point of being very hazardous!
4. A gyro will not stall so reduce power if flight control becomes an issue. Note however that if speed is reduced below a critical point a gyroplane will be unable to maintain height and will start to sink.
A gyroplane will not enter a conventional spin, however if speed is reduced too low without power, lack of rudder control may result in the machine rotating around the vertical axis.
5. Hold the nose wheel off the ground as long as possible during the landing roll. Maintain the back pressure on the stick until it is fully back or the aircraft has come to a complete stop.
6. Once stopped move the stick fully forward into wind to remove all lift. It is important to avoid blade sailing or ‘flap’ as your rotors slow down.
Ground manoeuvring is more likely to damage your aircraft than airborne activity. The requirement for training. These points are offered as an ‘aide memoir’ to all gyroplane pilots and may be worthy of discussion by those considering starting this type of flying.
The most important message is that we all need training, whether it be initial, conversion, continuation or consolidation. Murphy lurks around an airfield near you. Will you be ready when you meet him? If the answer isn’t an unqualified yes, then consider the value of some extra training.