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John from Flippin/Pensacola

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  • John from Flippin/Pensacola

    Greetings all!
    My name is John Johnson and Iím a private pilot. Iím changing mission, location, and aircraft and could use some advise and wisdom with the last item (aircraft).

    Iím currently in Northern Arkansas (Flippin, KFLP). My mission has been to go places in my Cardinal, but I am moving to the Pensacola area as soon as someone buys my Arkansas home. Once on the Gulf Coast, I will no longer need to go anywhere other than on short pancake/burger hops. So the new mission will be to fly low and slow, all year round -hot and humid in the summer and chilly and wet in the winter.

    Iím retired Air Force maintenance, have an electronics and mechanical background and have assisted friends on aluminum experimental aircraft builds and have done most of my own maintenance on my vehicles (including aircraft) for the last 50+ years, so Iíd be comfortable building and maintaining an experimental Gyroplane after getting educated on them and with knowledge resources such as from folks in this forum. I donít know anything about plastic (fiberglass, carbon fiber, etc.) so Iíd have to learn about that.

    Iíve read a lot of the forum's posts and have learned a lot, but without any context, it is difficult to put it all together. I sure could use some advise and help.

    Hereís what Iím dreaming about:

    1. Two seat, side by side kit Ė must be an experimental when all is said and done
    2. I donít care about 1320 pounds. I have a PPL and BasicMed is no problem. Training is mandatory for me. If it takes 40 hours for me to get trained and certified on rotary wing, thatís fine. I wonít fly anything if I donít feel Iím competent and safe.
    2. Storage capability behind the seats (or elsewhere) to hold wifeís wheelchair (folds to 8Ē wide x 24Ē x 36Ē)
    3. Fully enclosed. Iíd want to install a freon air conditioning system, either electric or engine driven. Iíve really hated flying my Cardinal in the summer heat. Itís hot and bumpy down low. The gyro as I understand handles thermal turbulence much better than a fixed wing plane and with the AC system taking care of the heat issue, I look forward to flying again in the summer other than early in the morning.
    4. Iíd like to run mogas and trailer the gyroplane home and into my own shop/garage. Should save me at least $300/month in the Pensacola area and I can work on it any time I want to.
    5. If I can cruise at 100 mph, thatíd be great. There is a 400 mile XC Iíd like to take a couple of times a year.
    6. Iíd prefer a kit that gives choices on engine, avionics and other things. For instance, I really like toe brakes instead of a motorcycle brake lever, and Iíd rather a direct drive engine with a constant speed prop, because I like reducing RPMs to get things nice and quiet when cruising around. A Lycoming O-320 or 360 mogas burner would be ideal.

    Before I consider building my own gyroplane, I would get with a CFI (there are some in the Pensacola area) and do a bit of flying, and if the gyro fills the mission as I expect it to, Iíll probably buy a basic gyroplane, get certified, and fly it for the year or so while building.

    Has what Iíve described sound like it will fit my mission? Am I expecting too much out of a Gyroplane? Is there such a kit that comes close?

    Thank you in advance, and I appreciate being able to learn and participate here!



  • #2
    Hi and welcome to the forum, John. Its good to see such experienced pilots joining us. I've been around this forum, off and on, since 2003. Done some flying and mechanics work in my younger days. I've got 25 years 'hands-on' experience in computer information systems, and when I saw your requirements for your new direction, I was impressed with the detail you presented. There is little reason that you won't find a good fit to what you need, since a quality solution is the one that 'conforms to requirements', and you seem to have very realistic ideas about what gyros can achieve for you.

    Regards

    Frank

    Comment


    • #3
      John, as soon as you mentioned your preferences for: 100mph cruise, 2-place sided-by-side cabin and a Lycoming power plant, I thought of the Sport Copter company.

      They've been around for many years, and their designs are mature and stable. The Sport Copter II comes to mind specifically.
      Here's the URL for them: https://www.facebook.com/SportCopter/ Good luck; I look forward to following your search here.

      Frank
      Regards

      Frank

      Comment


      • #4
        Welcome to the Rotary Wing Forum John.

        Thank you for your service.

        Sport Copter has a Lycoming powered side by side that appears very nice. I have not yet flown one.

        Silverlight Aviation from Florida is working on a Lycoming powered side by side that should be very nice. They build my favorite tandem; the American Ranger and I would expect Abid to do as nice a job on the side by side.

        A Cavalon by Autogyro would work although they are a little slower at 85kts, 98 miles per hour. I have about 400 hours in one and I like it a lot.

        I prefer an open two place tandem particularly if I lived somewhere like Florida. The smell and the feel of the air is a big part of low and slow for me.

        With your aviation experience it wonít take much to prepare you to fly a gyroplane. Most fly a lot like an airplane except for takeoff and landing. You need to manage rotor speed on takeoff and landing has a steep approach with a very slow touch down that will take a while to get the hang of. It is easy, just different. For Sport it is usually ten to fifteen hours of dual instruction to make the transition. Private has minimums and in my opinion converting a fixed wing pilot can be done in the minimums with a good syllabus.

        I don't know anything about air-conditioning on a gyroplane.

        In my opinion a gyroplanes handles turbulence with more comfort because of the high wing loading, high wing speed (400 miles per hour rotor tip speed) and the flexible wings.

        The red one (509QB) is a Cavalon and the white on (142MG) is the one of a kind tandem I train in with an IO-320 for power.
        Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

        Comment


        • #5
          Thank you eutrophicated1 and Vance. I like the SCII and have been reading up on it all day. Looks like it comes in a kit, and is highly customizable..

          Now if I may ask another, possibly touchy question...

          With old, orphaned sheet metal airplanes just about anything can be purchased, made, or procured out of a salvage yard if the needed part is specific only to that model. Do gyroplane manufacturers use common off the shelf parts for rotor assemblies, and other "rotorcraft" specific parts, or are there parts only available from the specific manufacturer? I ask, because some of these gyroplanes are very expensive and it would be a catastrophe if a manufacturer was to go out of business and not make blueprints or specifications available for these specific parts. Without "after death" support, it would be difficult for me to manufacture the part (or have it manufactured), and I could be left high and dry with a very expensive but pretty static display. Are there businesses in the gyroplane world that have proven to be stable and are there others that should be stayed away from? Does Caveat Emptor apply to the gyroplane world even more so than with fixed wing purchases?

          Comment


          • #6
            In my opinion all gyroplane rotors can be replaced with another manufacturer; I have had two different types of blades on The Predator. She is a one of a kind so the manufacturer is out of business. I am coming up on 1,800 hours on her tachometer.

            I feel there are very few parts on any currently available gyroplanes that canít be fabricated by someone with reasonable skills.

            Because they are experimental we are not required to use specific parts from a specific source like certified aircraft.

            The Sport Copter uses their own blades but they could be replaced with something from a different manufacturer. The Sport Copter blades are on inspection and do not have a finite life. Some blades do.

            One of the things I find alluring about a gyroplane is how simple they are.

            You have to drive the propeller, a rotor head needs to be mounted in the correct position and controlled by some system (push rods or push pull cables). A reasonably sized empennage needs to be mounted well back from the center of gravity and the rudder needs to be controlled.

            No flaps, no ailerons and no substantial structure to keep the wings from coming off.
            Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

            Comment


            • #7
              Perfect. Thanks again Vance.

              Comment


              • #8
                Hello John:
                PRA Chapter 16 is located in Dickson Tennessee, approx. 40 miles east of Nashville and 30 miles south of Fort Campbell. I would venture to guess that Jeff Tipton and I are the two which post here the most and maybe Wayne Hubbs a bit.
                Sounds like you have defined the mission and will build for the mission. That is the way it should be done.
                However; based on your requirements, that is a really tall order to fill in a gyro.
                You might consider keeping the Cessna for long trips and building a Gyro for play and shorter X-country trips.
                If you have never experienced open airframe flying, I am extending an invitation to give you a ride in my Tandem Dominator. I have even done some shorter cross country trips in mine, but with only 14 gallons onboard and a guzzling 2 stroker, I am limited to 2 hours solo at 75mph ias.
                Or 1 hour at WOT and Mike in the back seat. lol
                Anyways, I will gladly give you a ride
                David
                David McCutchen
                615-390-2228
                Bensen B7m, 90 hp Mac
                Dominator Tandem, 100 hp Hirth
                Kolb Mark III Classic, 80 hp Verner
                Certified - Advanced Master Beef Producer
                EAA Member #0511805
                PRA Member #28866
                PRA Chapter 16 Member
                Secretary & Treasure - PRA Chapter 16
                President / Sylvia - Yellow Creek Volunteer Fire Dept.
                Chairmen - Dickson County Veteran's Day Committee
                Volunteer - Dickson County Airport Aviation Day Committee
                2 busy 2 No!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I sense that the air-conditioning requirement you stated is not a minor issue, John. Sometimes it isn't only about the cooling effect, but also about good filtering of the cabin air itself that is important. My wife suffers from asthma, and therefore needs our vehicles to be air-conditioned. It won't be an issue for us, if I ever do get a gyro, since there is no way she will ever get into one, heh heh.

                  I have lived in Florida and Georgia, and am aware of the full meaning of 'allergy season' there. Fortunately, there are quite a few options available for putting a system into the larger 2-place enclosed gyros. While I haven't installed an air-conditioning system in any aircraft, I have put quite a few into cars, as well as having repaired quite a few more over the years. As you probably already know, air-conditioning systems are pretty much all the same today. The applied physics of refrigeration is well defined. So, whether you grab a system out of a used car, or out of another aircraft, or buy a kit, the number and type of components will remain very similar.

                  The trick is obviously going to be "placement of those components". I am confident that the owners of Sport Copter can and will assist you with proper engineering of such a subsystem.
                  Regards

                  Frank

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I feel your 400 mile cross country is easily doable in a gyroplane John. It just takes a little longer than in a fixed wing and in my opinion is more enjoyable. I typically fly between 500 to 1,500 feet above the ground and follow the roads so if I need to make an emergency landing I don't have far to walk. I seldom fly direct to anywhere.

                    On my longest gyroplane flight I flew from Santa Maria, California (KSMX) to Spanish Fork, Utah (U77) 634 nautical miles; then down to Buckeye, Arizona BXK; 460 nautical miles and back to SMX, 411 nautical miles for a total of 1,495 nautical miles 1,781 statute miles.

                    Thunderstorms made the flight from U77 to BXK two days. There was an AIRMET along the entire route of flight for moderate turbulence and I flew day VFR.

                    David is a friend of mine with a different vision of flying a gyroplane than mine. He is an excellent gyroplane pilot and very funny.
                    Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Vance, thankyou for everything you write. I read it all and take all of your experience-borne wisdom to heart.

                      Frank
                      Regards

                      Frank

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Gyro28866 View Post
                        Hello John:
                        PRA Chapter 16 is located in Dickson Tennessee, approx. 40 miles east of Nashville and 30 miles south of Fort Campbell. I would venture to guess that Jeff Tipton and I are the two which post here the most and maybe Wayne Hubbs a bit.
                        Sounds like you have defined the mission and will build for the mission. That is the way it should be done.
                        However; based on your requirements, that is a really tall order to fill in a gyro.
                        You might consider keeping the Cessna for long trips and building a Gyro for play and shorter X-country trips.
                        If you have never experienced open airframe flying, I am extending an invitation to give you a ride in my Tandem Dominator. I have even done some shorter cross country trips in mine, but with only 14 gallons onboard and a guzzling 2 stroker, I am limited to 2 hours solo at 75mph ias.
                        Or 1 hour at WOT and Mike in the back seat. lol
                        Anyways, I will gladly give you a ride
                        David
                        Too late on keeping the Cessna. The buyer will be coming from Orlando in two weeks to take it home with him. It should have departed my hangar for the last time yesterday but the closing was delayed for obvious reasons :). Regardless, I think we're done with long XCs and even that 400 miler I mentioned would probably be better filled with an automobile. We're getting to the point where a road trip is really enjoyable, even all the way across the country, and my flying anymore is purely a hobby, probably 50/50 working on or improving it, and flying it to admire my engineering/wrenching prowess:). No matter how much we try, it is difficult to justify any small aircraft as practical for anything other than fun.

                        Truth be known, I've never flown in an open cockpit and look forward to trying it in a gyro. I rode motorcycles my whole life and always rode to work unless it was snowing. I can imagine a gyro gives one a similar sensation that could never be had in an air conditioned, enclosed vehicle. As eutrophicated1 hinted, we don't have any allergies or other issues that require air conditioning, we just don't like to sweat!

                        I appreciate your offer. I'm focused on maintaining my property here in Arkansas while it is for sale, and if it wasn't for that and if I was keeping the Cessna, I'd run over and hitch a ride with you. But I should be able to get the experience shortly after moving to the Pensacola area.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by eutrophicated1 View Post
                          I sense that the air-conditioning requirement you stated is not a minor issue, John. Sometimes it isn't only about the cooling effect, but also about good filtering of the cabin air itself that is important. My wife suffers from asthma, and therefore needs our vehicles to be air-conditioned. It won't be an issue for us, if I ever do get a gyro, since there is no way she will ever get into one, heh heh.

                          I have lived in Florida and Georgia, and am aware of the full meaning of 'allergy season' there. Fortunately, there are quite a few options available for putting a system into the larger 2-place enclosed gyros. While I haven't installed an air-conditioning system in any aircraft, I have put quite a few into cars, as well as having repaired quite a few more over the years. As you probably already know, air-conditioning systems are pretty much all the same today. The applied physics of refrigeration is well defined. So, whether you grab a system out of a used car, or out of another aircraft, or buy a kit, the number and type of components will remain very similar.

                          The trick is obviously going to be "placement of those components". I am confident that the owners of Sport Copter can and will assist you with proper engineering of such a subsystem.
                          AC is a requirement for the Dr Jeckyll in me, but I really look forward to trying the open cockpit. One of the reasons I'm letting my Cardinal go is because it is just a bit too complicated. I am tempted to build a gyro and load it to the max with full glass IFR avionics, air conditioning, etc., but Mr Hyde imagines how nice it would be to have a stripped down flying machine that weighed as little as possible. Great handling, and nothing to break. I gotta get that test flight out of the way before deciding.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I was very involved in motorcycles John. I road raced professionally from 1966 through 1989 and went land speed racing from 1978 to 2005. I owned and operated Harley Davidson of Santa Maria from 1987 to 2004. I averaged 10,000 motorcycle road miles a year from 1965 to 2007.

                            The gyroplane I own and fly the most is a two place open tandem. She is my motorcycle in the sky. I have ridden motorcycles very little since I purchased her.

                            One of my aviation magic moments is every time I go through the San Marcos pass from Santa Ynez to Santa Barbara. Santa Ynez is typically hot and smells like horses and as I crest the ridge the ground drops away 2,000 feet and the cool ocean air sweeps over me. The Channel Islands are floating off in the distance. If I stay near the ridgeline I can typically find an updraft from the onshore breeze and pull the power well back.

                            I love the smell of the strawberries around Santa Maria and the smell of the lemon blossoms near Ojai.

                            I love the smell of the wet earth after a rain.

                            Some of that is lost in an enclosed gyroplane even with the doors off.

                            Yes; I have to dress for the weather and if it rains I get wet.

                            If it is hot and I sweat on the ground the cooling effect of the open air is magical and usually I can find cooler air at some altitude.

                            When I was last in Mentone, Indiana it was hot, humid and somewhat unpleasant. I went flying in a two place open Dominator powered by a Rotax 914 with Ernie Boyette. After an hour flight I was refreshed and somehow the hot weather was not relevant in my afterglow.

                            David flies a Dominator and I suspect you will be amazed at how connected with the sky you feel. The two place Dominator is delightfully simple.

                            I recommend taking a drive down to Zephyrhills and getting an introductory lesson in an American Ranger with Greg. I suspect you will be surprised at how easy to fly she is are and she will run along quite nicely at 100 miles per hour.

                            An enclosed gyroplane is fun and perhaps more practical but reduces the intensity of the flight as compared to an open gyroplane.

                            A partial enclosure is a nice compromise for this old man.
                            Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Great ideas, John. Have fun with this. I never fail to be envious of Vance, all the scenic views he has. I'm grateful that he shares them with us. Maybe you have some too.

                              Frank
                              Regards

                              Frank

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