View Full Version : Control Stick vs. Joy Stick
04-16-2009, 03:34 PM
Does anyone have experience in or can tell why everybody is switching to Joy sticks? What's the advantage or disadvantage of each?
I appreciate any input, as I consider converting my Benson from joy stick to overhang control.
04-16-2009, 04:05 PM
Good luck getting training for an overhang controlled gyro.
Back when dinosaurs still roamed North America... or then we called it Pangaea, I installed one on my two-place Bensen tow-glider, which also had a joy stick. Tried the overhang once while in flight....... could not get my hands off it and back onto the joy stick fast enough to suite me. Landed, and took it off and cut it into other useful parts....
Blocks your view.... Catches more wind...... looks ugly.....
Besides, Chuck Yeager never used one. Nether did John Wayne, so be-damed if I will eather... Pilgrim.
04-16-2009, 05:01 PM
I fly both types, floor and over head stick and there are pros and cons to both. on an open frame gyro the overhead stick has less drag and weight but if you have a rotor head with one inch off set and no prerotator you need a very strong spring. it is best with a spindle head or a gimble with 1/4 to 3/8 off set which takes some work to make this set up. The floor or joystick is a good match for the comon gimble because if there is not quite enough spring or you have a spring break the stick will pull away from you and the stick will be heavy but it's not dangerous, a stick that pushes back at you if the spring breaks can lead to pio . If you have a cabin type gyro a joystick is the only way to go or you will have a hole in the top. Over head sticks are usually long so they are not as quick which is good for training.
04-17-2009, 04:55 AM
I also fly both types. The overhead stick is very light, simple and inexpensive. The motions are the same as a hang glider or trike. The hand position and twist-grip throttle will be familiar to motorcycle riders.
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain 2-seat training for this type of control, however. Anyone with training in a conventional aircraft will find that the motions of the overhead stick appear "backwards" -- you pull the overhead toward you to lower the nose and increase speed, push left to bank right, and so on. There is a mental trick you can use to eliminate the sensation of "backwardness" -- but who needs more tricks?
04-17-2009, 06:15 AM
Cierva C-30s had hanging sticks with a reversing mechanism at the rotorhead, providing the same travel direction as a floor mounted stick.
Rotachute pilots were trained by connecting the front cockpit stick direct.
04-17-2009, 08:06 AM
The overhead stick is considered "unconventional" by most pilots - about the worst criticism one can make in the conservative world of aviation. As ultralight gyroplanes continue to develop, there are some good reasons to revisit the question of the type of control stick geometry.
The advantages of the standard "floor-mounted" control stick all revolve around the "conventionality" of this type of control system:
Almost all two-seat machines used for dual-control training are equipped with this type of stick.
If you have flight experience in other conventional fixed or rotary-wing aircraft, control stick inputs will be the same, making for an easier transition to gyroplanes.
There are, however, some distinct disadvantages to the conventional joystick:
The system tends to be complex. The stick itself can have a multitude of parts (particularly the popular "walking beam"-type stick), not to mention at least two control rods, four rod-end Heim fittings, and associated hardware. This complexity translates to a greater potential for component failure. Such failures, along with other problems than can jam the system in flight, have resulted in a number of fatalities. Most of these could have been prevented with a proper preflight inspection, but the simple fact is there is more to inspect!
The complexity of the system also results in higher costs. A typical stick assembly can cost between $300 and $500, exclusive of the control rods, Heim fittings, and hardware.
All of these parts increase the weight of the control system.
All components have to be carefully adjusted to minimize binding or play - either of which can seriously degrade handling and inhibit precise control of the machine.
Given the geometry of the system, control inputs in normal flight tend to be made with very small stick inputs. This tends to increase the pilot workload, particularly on long flights, and can lead to over-control.
The system takes up space below and behind the seat, generally eliminating these areas as places for cargo or equipment storage or mounting.
The system is extremely simple, with a single rigid stick connected directly to the rotor head. This arrangement is inherently less prone to failure and is easier to inspect. I am not aware of any accidents resulting from failure of the overhead stick, but such failures are certain to be less common in comparison with the standard stick.
The overhead system costs less - all required materials should not add up to more than $75 - or less!
The weight of the overhead stick system will be significantly less - an important consideration for Part 103 machines.
The overhead stick is completely free of binding or play.
The long lever-arm represented by the overhead stick results in a significantly less sensitive control system, reducing the potential for over-control.
The space beneath and behind the seat is freed-up for other uses.
The control inputs are perfectly natural for trike pilots, making for an easy transition to gyros. Given the increasing popularity of trikes, this is a significant factor.
The disadvantages of the overhead stick appear to parallel the advantages of the conventional arrangement:
Difficult or impossible to get flight training.
The control inputs are "backwards"/"unconventional" with respect to common fixed-wing aircraft and that makes conventional pilots nervous.
If we could discount the importance of the "conventional" aspect of the standard stick, it is pretty clear that an overhead stick would offer significant advantages, particularly for Part 103 machines. This being the case, lets look at the "unconventional" control issue.
The Conventionality Issue
The importance of this issue tends to be amplified by conventional pilots who tend to be quite conservative with respect to all aspects of aircraft design and construction. Here are some very personal observations on these points.
Ease of Use. The control inputs for the overhead stick on a gyro are the same as those required for weight-sift fixed-wings and trike aircraft. These aircraft are typically considered to be very easy and natural to fly - something I can confirm based on many years flying a weight-shift Quicksilver fixed-wing ultralight. Flying with a conventional control stick is more demanding by far!
Confusion? If you have learned to fly with both systems, won't you get confused, particularly in a crisis situation? Without exception, pilots familiar with both systems will answer no! Think about driving for a moment. If you drive with your hands on the top of the steering wheel, you move the wheel one way to make turns. If you grasp the bottom of the steering wheel, these inputs are reversed! The fact is, you don't have to think about it as you shift your hands and about the only way you could make a mistake would be to think about it while driving!
Training. This is a legitimate issue but there is a way around the problem. You can take conventional gyro instruction and then go out and find a trike BFI and pick up a few hours of dual in one of these machines. As long as you are careful and approach flying your own machine in easy stages, there is no reason why you cannot make a safe and easy transition to the overhead gyro stick.
There is no single answer to the "best control system" question. If you want to be conservative, you can simply go with the standard joystick. However, there are some really good reasons to consider the overhead stick option, particularly for an ultralight machine.
04-17-2009, 08:26 AM
One of the first PRA magazines I received after subscribing in 1969 described an accident involving the failure of an overhead stick. It broke off near the sharp bend just beyond the torque bar. The pilot, Bob Kitchin, belonged, I think, to the Colorado Rotorcraft Association. The stick broke during a landing flare, so the real problem was that the throttle and kill switch no longer worked and Bob ran off the runway and flipped.
The article didn't mention his receiving any injuries.
I put an internal sleeve in the upper two feet of my Gyrobee's O.H. stick. Some others use a straight, clamp-on diagonal brace to triangulate the top bend.
The pilot, Bob Kitchin, belonged, I think, to the Colorado Rotorcraft Association. The stick broke during a landing flare, so the real problem was that the throttle and kill switch no longer worked and Bob ran off the runway and flipped.
A name I havn't heard in a while, Bob was a good friend of mine. He has sence past away "natural causes" I too trained myself with a overhead (azmith) control system. Liked it, just switched to relax my arms from holding them up durning whole flight........Dick
04-18-2009, 06:13 AM
If I remember correctly Walt Lach also had one break while starting to flare for landing, it broke where a brace was clamped on to stiffen it. I think it is best to use steel.
04-18-2009, 08:37 AM
Thank you all for your input so far!!! It's good to brainstorm and get other opininios and learn about the experiences already made on the subject. I want to keep my gyro as light as possible, for part 103. Rather have more storage room for camping trips and cross country flights. :plane:
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