View Full Version : Help! I want to be a birdman
06-25-2004, 10:13 PM
Hello to all. I am new here and now making my first post. I am in need in getting a basic understanding of what operating a gyro is like.
I was first introduced to gyros while in the third grade way back in the 60’s. A gentleman was flying one off of a freshly paved, long, wide road near my house that was to later have apartments built along it. It seemed like a perfect runway and a late night drag strip at the time. This was in Vista, CA. It would be cool if that person was a member of the group. Anyway, my sister and I made it to the area just as the Benson was being loaded on the trailer. We talked to him for a bit and he offered to pick us up the next day to go to a flying of sorts at Palomar airport the next day. That was a day I will never forget. What a wonderful site. I have ever since been interested in them but have never had the chance to get serious.
Through the years I have had to put up with all the people that would say how dangerous they are. This even came form a friend at high school that with his dad was a member of the EAA and building a Midget Mustang. I was a sad day when he and his dad died in the plane after attempting a low altitude, low airspeed turn back to the airport after the engine quit just after take off.
Recently after finding and downloading the documentation on the Gyrobee I find the bug is back. What I need is some help from the group with is understanding gyros. So far I have just been lurking in the group and reading posts. After all the talk about PIO’s and PPO’s I am starting to get worried. I want to know more about just what they are like to fly. I know there are many different types and different characteristics, between even ones of the same type. A recent link to Gyrochuck’s web site were he described controlling one was great. Are there other sites or posts that could be recommended to help picture such mystical things such as rotor management? Any help would be much appreciated. I am trying to imagine myself in a magic carpet like the Gyrobee.
I ran across a gyro story at work that I think the group would like. I was showing my co-workers the Gyrobee documents. Besides the usual concerned looks from most of the group that I may actually get in one, one of the mechanical engineers said he used to ride in his older brothers Benson kite…except he was 11and his older brother was 13! He told me about his brother building it himself. He had even befriended the owner of a local machine shop and did his own machining under the wing of the owner. He then convinced their mother to tow him down the runway of a local small airport with her station wagon. First he had rigged something that only let the Benson get a few inches off the ground. Eventually he worked up to a 100 foot rope. Later a proper 72 horse engine was installed but never tried. It was sold at that point and the two of them survived childhood. Sounds like a good side plot for a movie.
06-26-2004, 12:51 AM
My only reason for this reply to your post is to encourage you to seek out the people in your part of the U. S. that are involved in this wonderful sport and get involved with people who are already involved.
I am 61 years old and just soloed my Dominator gyro in January of this year. The Dominator is a centerline thrust machine, and very safe to fly, once I received proper training. It is not prone to PIO or PPO. There are many other makes and models that are very safe also.
After all my years of drag racing cars, outboards and motorcycles, and being involved in several other extreme sports, I am now enjoying the best sport there is, in my opinion. Flying my gyro is like riding a motorcycle in the sky. It's the most fun I have ever had.
My suggestion would be to get with a good gyro instructor and talk to him at length. Then go up with him and get the feel of flying a gyro. It's a truly wonderful experience.
There is a PRA chapter in Phoenix. This might be your best place to start. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and their phone number is 602-246-0227.
If I may be of any help to you, just let me know.
06-26-2004, 08:45 AM
Thanks for the reply Chuck.
For now I am interested in reading material. Particularly free reading material. I have too many projects in the work at the minuet and am probably looking at a least a couple of years of thinking of how to get airborne. Your comparison to a motorcycle is a plus. I love riding but after a life change accident while commuting I have been staying off the street.
I am still not sure about the Rotax 477 engine. From what I found on line there was a spec of 5.5 gallons an hour. I couldn’t tell if that was cruse or while making 40 horses. If anyone that has any input on how much airtime you get on 5 gallons I would love to hear it. I also don’t like the idea of flying on a 2 stroke but so far it still seems like the best choice with the weight limitations. I think Rotax is about the best engine out there if it has to be a 2 stroke, besides I work for Bombardier and know the recreational group makes great products. If we had to sell them I’m glad it went to the Bombardier family.
I also have been wondering what the future will bring to the 2 stroke. I think the following link is exciting but it may just be smoke. www.maxmoto.co.uk/aprilia_leonardo_500_ditech.shtml
06-26-2004, 09:08 AM
Welcome, Jerry. You are at the best place in the world to learn and exchange info about gyros.
06-26-2004, 09:29 AM
Jerry, remember that this is just my opinion. My all time best friend had around 12,000 hours in the air. He told me that what ever I decided to fly, to have plenty of horse power. I have a 618 Rotax on my single place that is putting out 75 HP. The horse pover has saved me several times. While I am cruising at 55 MPH, I am only burning 3.8 to 4 gals per hour. Again, my opinion is that you will be safer with plenty of horse power.
Go to the PRA web page and visit the different chapter sites. Many have free literature you can get off the internet. Do searches at google.com. If you haven't done so already, make your email address available to us on the forum, and some of us will send you stuff as we run accross it. Email me any time: email@example.com>
Another opinion: Don't be concerned about getting a machine or even an engine at this time. Get with some gyro people and learn from them, then learn to fly. The right machine will come available in due time.
06-26-2004, 10:06 AM
Don't be discouraged by all of the discussions about the dangers of improperly designed and operated gyros. There are many fine machines out there, including the Gyrobee with an adequate horizontal stabilizer. A stable gyro with a well trained pilot is one of the safest aircraft there is.
Living in Tuscon, you are really fortunate to be quite close to one of the best gyro resources in the world. American Autogyro is just a couple of hours away in Bukeye. They are the makers of the Sparrowhawk kit, the RAF stability augmentation kit, and are a division of Groen that make the Hawk 4, turbine powered gyro. I have been taking lessons there with Terry Brandt for a little over a year now -- I don't have as much time as I'd like to fly -- and can recommend him very highly. I have soloed and just have my solo x-country and night work left to do. I had never piloted any kind of aircraft before starting my lessons. Steve Mcgowen, another very highly rated instructor, although I haven't flown with him yet, and a really nice guy.
I highly recommend that you give them a call and arrange for a demo flight. You can find more info at http://www.americanautogyro.com
06-26-2004, 10:28 AM
Jerry, I wholeheartedly agree with Peter (the post above). Since I have spent some time around Steve McGowen and seen him fly quite a bit, I would highly recommend that you make a real effort to spend some time with him and then get your training with him. Also, Steve trained two of my friends and they are doing quite well.
06-26-2004, 12:05 PM
If you make it to the Ken Brock Freedom Fly-In El Mirage this summer, you'll find many varied gyroplanes, at least a couple of certified instructors and two-place owners who'll take you up for an introductory flight, and trust me...once you've actually flown in one, you'll become very motivated to step up that two-year time frame!
06-27-2004, 10:47 AM
welcome to the sport of free men! (Kings can only envy us).
All the advice you have gotten so far is good. I would also urge you to check out the americanautogyro.com website and make the drive to Buckeye (call first, of course) if you can. I've flown in the AAI modified RAF with Terry Brandt and Terry is a good instructor. Everyone in the gyro world knows Steve McGowan who is a larger than life figure. The head of AAI, Jim Mayfield, is a very accomplished test pilot (SETP member) and knows his gyros.
For more reading material, read the FAA's Rotorcraft Flying Handbook.
Don't skip the helicopter bits. Unfortunately, the gyro chapters of the book assume that you have read and understand the helicopter aerodynamics, etc. (Yes, even though a gyro is a lot simpler than a helicopter). If you have questions, ask us.
06-27-2004, 03:58 PM
First of all Welcome! You are really in a good place to learn.
I just want to add something of everything every one has reply to you.
"The gyro is the safes aircraft you can find" But still is a aircraft. Aircraft, like motorcycle, cars, boat anything that has a engine and moves, If you don't have proper trainnig you will crash. So who make really any aircraft or vehicle safe? You! ,the pilot. So your safety depend on you and on a good training with a CFI.
Jerry people think that becouse a Bensen, gyrobee, or a KB-2
look easy to buit, That you can just buit it, and fly it. Like I toll you before , you really need quality training with a CFI to really enjoy flyin gyros like we do.
When you finish doing that you will be the "Safes pilot, on the Safes aircraft" :D
"Good combination" :D
06-27-2004, 06:36 PM
A discription of gyroplane flight that I like is in the great book:
The gyroplane flight manual.
more books and videos here:
06-27-2004, 09:00 PM
Thanks for the link to the FAA’s Rotor Flying Handbook. It looks like there may be some interesting reading but that one is going to take a while to get through. Actually I do know a fare bit on helicopters and fixed wing. I’ve spent most of my life studying aerodynamics, structures and general design, plus what I picked up in airframe classes or in the field. It’s the gyro that is not covered as well, I don’t think it was ever even brought up in class. I think I am now progressing well with the Internet searches and help from the group. I know one thing for sure, I would never think (anymore anyway) of trying it without dual training.
For my 9 to 5 I work with some interesting aircraft electronic systems and regularly deal with the FAA. I so far have never managed to take wing myself and sometimes I get sick of working certification projects through the feds. An ultralight may be just what I need.
There have been a number of fixed wings I like but the gyro keeps coming back to my thoughts. Then there is the fact that around here we rarely get light wind days. I think a fixed wing ultralight would spend too many days grounded due to weather. I think my favorite gyro has to be James Bond’s. That one would be fun but I think the feds would frown on the missiles and guns. You wouldn’t believe the fuss they make over just putting hardpoints on a business jet!
For the moment I have lots of time to think things over. I have an old dirt bike in line for restoration and a seemingly un-ending honeydo list. Some things I am pondering in the mean time are things like if a cold weather wind protection pod could be installed without breaking max weight or causing the forward cross section area to totally fowl up stability. Also have been wondering if anyone has looked into the possibility of a ˝ VW, around 1000cc, with a PSR and cooling fan.
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