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Sun N Fun or bust

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  • Sun N Fun or bust

    I am one of those working fools who finally after scads of sacrifice and years has the means to buy a flying machine to re-explore all the great things flying has to offer. I have a PPL earned in the 1970's which means I am totally out of date and plan on learning how to fly all over again. Looking forward to learning the skills, getting familiar with the new Nav tools (GPS, etc.) and engaging with the flying community. After hundreds of hours of research I have determined that I am 60/40 in favor of wanting a gyro over that of an LSA plane. I want a gyro for the following reasons; It's about the journey and sight seeing is my thing. I have two sons in school, one 150 miles away, the other 270... perfect day trip for Dad. And possibly Mom but she prefers terra firma. Here are my thoughts as a layman investigating Gyros, for better or worse and I am absolutely open to a debate because I am still in mega learning mode:

    1) Gyros are NOT flown like airplanes. One flies the disk above keeping in mind that the craft is top heavy. Upon takeoff, best to pull the stick back, feel the rotor grab the air, get the nose up, balance on the mains, and lift off only when the disk is ready to lift... it isn't about concentrating on the airspeed indicator. Liftoff in ground effect, build up a safe, proven (spec'd) speed and all is well. A Cavalon is sexy and car-like, but there is no difference between flying it and "Flying" a Bensen. It's all about disk management. Is this right?

    2) I need an enclosed cabin because I am based in New England and I am fair skinned. From my reading, it seems the Conventional gyros (Calidus, DTA J-Ro) are "safer" than side-by-sides due to CG characteristics. Conventional are slightly faster as well.

    3) Questions please: What are the legitimate speed specs for the enclosed Cavalon style gyros? I read 100 mph, is it really 70? Can one really travel say 300 miles and have a working wrist after that long a flight (stick shake looks like a drag... is it in the head or does one get used to it?) Finally, do they hold up? Are Gyros a constant maintenance headache as there are a lots of exposed moving parts... or are the moving parts little different than a 172's covered ailerons, flaps and rudder moving parts? And, the local airports have good, but skinny runways and only in 2 compass directions. Can crosswind landings in a gyro be "learned" easily or are they major events... I read that windy conditions are "ok" for gyros due to the fraction of wing area compared to planes, I get that, however is landing INTO the wind a necessity?

    Thank you in advance for your time and efforts on my behalf, I am looking forward to going to Sun N Fun and learning a lot and hopefully making a purchase. Safe flying everyone.
    Last edited by AGLyme; 04-01-2018, 02:46 AM.

  • #2
    I am off to Bensen days and Sun N Fun so this is a short answer. If you make Sun N Fun and have questions that I havenít answered give me a call at (805)680-9523.
    1. Yes, if you learn to fly a gyroplane other gyroplanes are fairly easy to transition into. There are differences and when I train someone in mine ideally I fly with them when they purchase a particular gyroplane rather than just explain the differences. I would not recommend a Cavalon as a first gyroplane.
    1. Easier to fly well is a more appropriate term. A tandem does everything a little easier and slower because of a higher polar moment. The distance from the center of gravity to the empennage makes a big difference, longer is better. As I recall the Cavalon has a VNE of 86kts (99 miles per hour). The tandems are much higher; I donít have time to look it up. Some tandems manage power/pitch/yaw much better than others.
    1. The rough air speed for the Cavalon is about 75kts (86mph) so that is probably a happier cruise speed although when I have planned badly I have run along at 85kts for hundreds of miles. The American Ranger seems happy at a 100kts cruise. The MTO Sport seems happy at about 90kts with the Calidus being some faster. Most of the people I know with a Magni run along about 85kts. Fly as many as you can and see what you like. Speed is not what a gyroplane is about and what feels good may be some slower than what the gyroplane can do.

    A short introductory flight is not enough to choose. Get at least a couple of hours training in the models you are considering.

    My rental car awaits me, it is 5:15 and it is a long drive from California to Florida. I would like to make it to Bensen Days on Wednesday.

    All the best on your gyroplane adventure.
    Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


    • #3
      Have a safe trip, Vance ! Happy Easter to all !
      Happy Flying, Chris S.


      • #4
        Thank you Vance... appreciate the thoughtful response.


        • #5
          Why do you ask about the necessity of landing into the wind? Why would you NOT do so when able?
          Everything I fly, I land into the wind when able.


          • #6
            Andrew (AGLyme): Landing in a cross wind in a gyroplane isn't such a hard thing, since the tail & cross-section of such a small aircraft is tiny compared to larger ones, like Cessnas. The winds don't have as much side area to push around! Tilting the rotordisk slightly into the wind and using whichever rudder pedal is appropriate to maintain heading along the runway is just like flying an airplane.

            The wing of a gyroplane also isn't this large "sail" that the wind can get underneath and throw around. Think of the rotorblade disk as a porous wing. It deflects air downward to generate lift, just as the traditional airplane wing does, but also allows a lot of the air mass to pass upwards through it.

            Also, after getting some experience flying a gyro, it is easy to land in a diagonal on the runway to better seek a track into the wind. Same goes for a takeoff.

            After gaining a lot of experience (especially judging how your gyroplane handles/reacts to your inputs), it's sink rates in various wind strengths will enable you to even land directly across the runway, into the wind, if you'd like, on those local runways you mentioned! The slow landing speed and short roll-outs characteristics of gyroplane flying wins here.

            An intersection of runways or of a taxiway is another excellent option. Some gyroplane pilots also come in for a landing along the runway's course, but maintaining the downwind side of it. Then, as they are descending to about 10' off the surface, they turn into the wind's direction, having plenty of pavement under them as they flare and set down.

            That, of course, also depends on your airport's traffic, and whether such a maneuver would upset other pilots using the facility at the same time. You as the pilot are responsible for your safety, and land as your feel safest. Less-than-conventional landings may cause problems with other pilots or an airport manager. It's best to have a discussion with an airport manager to explain the landing capabilities and your safety.

            Usually if the winds aren't aligning with either of those two runway directions, most airplane pilots won't be out flying in those conditions when they do their weather checks prior to leaving home to go aviate. So, you'll likely have the airport to yourself in those conditions.

            I'm guessing since there are only two runways and that they are narrow, that your local airport is more of a small, country one, and not busy at all. Also, what may seem a narrow runway to an airplane pilot, since the take-off and landing speeds are so much faster, is ample room for a smaller aircraft!

            Practicing, and then becoming competent in all types of landings in a gyroplane is the ultimate goal.
            Last edited by Kevin_Richey; 04-02-2018, 07:21 AM.


            • #7
              Kevin/Smack... I researched cross wind landings in a gyro, played tons of Youtubes, but no one explained it as Kevin just did above... thank you... And the mechanics of the craft in a cross wind makes tons of sense. I just couldn't visualize it. The broken synapse for me was the disk itself, I didn't realize that one could tilt it a bit into the wind, in addition to the rudder. And your comments about the side footprint makes sense too... there isn't as much for the wind to push relative to a Cessna body, etc.

              So, next week, I will begin the journey. My oldest son lives on a farm in Upstate NY, he is a special needs adult and he loves anything to do with flying... can't stump him on any of the WW2 birds. We discovered there is a grass airfield within walking distance of his house which was an incredible find. Can't wait to fly up and visit him and take him for rides. I think the gyro is the perfect mission fit for me and the family. My conventional pals are already advising me that I am crazy, that I should be buying a Cessna/piper...

              Vance is right, I need to take my time and ride in several and take lessons and determine the proper craft for my new skills. Looking particularly forward to visiting Fara's gyro... let's hope he worked the bugs out of the canopy..; ). Thanks all, Andrew


              • #8
                Andrew - 270 miles out and back would be slow in a gyro. AR-1 seems to be good cruiser, but itís not enclosed. Go buy a nice Husky and you can go any where without the sun beating down on you. It is more versatile for what you described with a passenger. You didnít mention your budget. DTAs are not sold in th US. Gyros can be expensive compared to a used plane. Best to buy what meets your mission. I have found many people had expectations of family flying with them, but in the end never seemed to work out. so may want to rent first to see if that would be the case since it could bring more options.Good luck! Where in NE do you live?


                • #9
                  Thanks Dave... I live in CT. Right, I know the DTA's are not sold here which is too bad, seems like a great option. The AR-1 is experimenting with enclosures presently, I hope they are making good progress. We are good savers here in New England because we are frugal so I understand how much a new craft goes for. Husky as in tail dragger? Originally I wanted a Kitfox, but they are in the Kit business and I don't have the interest, talent or patience that plane builders have. I am also a tricycle gear guy, the tailwheel is daunting. Is 270 miles out and back crazy in a Gyro? Meaning, can it be done in a day trip or is the range really say... 150 miles and 2 stops are in order each way? There isn't much in the way of info on the net regarding cross country trips in gyros. I have the mission down (low, slow, trips within a 300 miles radius), I just have to find the bird. Thanks all, Andrew