Editor: Hi Greg, I discovered through the ASRA web site forum that you were building a SparrowHawk gyro from the US down here near Wollongong NSW. Can you tell me a bit about yourself and the project so far ?
Greg W: I’ve been involved in flying for a long time now, all the way through the GA spectrum to Instructor level. The desire to have my own machine led me to owning a Cessna 152 for 5 years, but the maintenance and running costs spoiled my ownership dreams at that time.
A long distance flight across Australia left a large dent in the balance books after an incident with a seized piston. Since then I researched alternative ways of getting in the air including Trikes and Ultralights like Gazelle’s and a Sea Ray amphibian.
They were great machines but still not what I was looking for. Eventually I found out about the Sparrowhawk gyro made by Groen Bros in the USA and everything has led on from there.
Editor: What did you find appealing about the Sparrowhawk ?
Greg W: The first thing that appealed to me was the Groen Bros company itself. They are a very professional organization and have spent lots of time and money in research and development in regards to stability and the unique engineering requirements of the Gyro.
They are famous for the HAWK 4 gyrocopter which is a Rolls Royce turbine powered 4 seat machine with ultra short range take off abilities. These are serious machines destined for great things in the future and the company takes all of their projects very seriously. The Sparrowhawk is built to the latest stability criteria and is priced to be affordable for recreational flyers. Basically I just wanted one.
Editor: Was it difficult to buy a machine sight unseen from another country ?
Greg W: Actually, when I decided to follow this path I went to the factory in Buckeye , Arizona not once but twice and completed my training and conversion with the factory test pilot. After this period I was granted permission to be the Sparrowhawk authorized dealer in Australia.
Editor: Tell me a little about the build process.
Greg W: Groen Bros Aviation agreed to send out Steve McGowan , a 3000hr gyro pilot and instructor from the US to oversee the build and
test flight procedure. This machine has been assembled and is now in the test flying stage in only 28 days from the kit arriving on my door step.
This has been an incredible and almost unbelievable effort by everyone involved, but very worthwhile when you-see the finished product here in front of us.
Editor: There’s no point asking if you are excited about the project as I can see the smile and proud look on your face. So what happens next ?
Greg W: Well, first of course is to complete the test flying criteria as laid in the operations manual, and then for me to be trained and signed off to fly the machine myself. We are working closely with Ian Morcombe, Allan Wardill and ASRA to make this happen.
As with all new projects there are a few small hurdles to cross but I’m sure it will all be worthwhile in the end. We are definitely making the trip to the Nationals at Biggenden at Easter so we have a lot to organize before then.
Editor: Big Plans for the future ?
Greg W: Oh yes…. Kit # 2 has been sold to Dudley Cowin from Qld so that will be the next priority to get that one in the air. In fact Groen Bros
are sending out another experienced Sparrowhawk instructor, Terry Eiland and his wife Linda to tidy up any loose ends and to begin some flight training from 13th February this year.
Future plans are to open a full time training facility in the South Coast NSW area and to set up a Sparrowhawk distribution network. It looks like we have managed to arrange full seat, hull and trailer insurance for the Sparrowhawk which is a first as far as I know.
This is a large step towards my goal of being able to be authorized to fly into controlled airspace like Bankstown air port. Gyros are such fantastic machines and I believe with kits like the Sparrowhawk raising the profile as safe, well engineered and reliable aircraft, that they should be able to earn the privilege of flying wherever the pilot wants to fly.
Editor: Congratulations on you achievement so far, Anyone you’d like to give a special mention ?
Greg W: Definitely, sincere thanks to everyone who has helped so far including Steve McGowan, Ian Morcombe, Allan Wardill, Llewella and John Evans , Dudley Cowin, Ross Ingram, Ken Garland, Ken Mitchell etc etc etc