ArrowCopter sets new speed record

ckurz7000

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February 12th was an overcast day with about a 15 kt wind blowing out of the north. Temperature was 8 °C. Altogether not too conducive for setting a speed record but, heck, why not do it anyway.

The point is that I know the ArrowCopter is likely the fastest gyroplane available on the market and good for setting one or the other record. The FAI (International Aeronautical Federation) is the organization responsible for keeping the records (pun entirely intentional), and on their website they maintain a ranking of all records past and present in a slew of different classes, categories, groups, etc. Reading the documentation and statutes about how to properly fly a record, document it and then claim it, is a task in itself. So I picked a record task thats comparatively easy to fly just to learn the ropes.

For the task I picked "Speed over a Straight Course between 15 km and 25 km in Length". I then needed to find an official observer, get a certified and seald flight recorder and download all the required forms -- eight pages in total. The task entails flying between two points on a straight out-and back course as fast as possible. The distance is then divided by the time required and the result is going to be my speed performance. The current record holder in the category Gyroplane with less than 1000 kg MTOW is Andrew Keech, who set it at 131 km back in 2007.

I had made several practice runs of the flight just to see how much time penalty the climb to altitude would be, how straight a course (in altitude as well as heading) I could hold, how close I could cut the turn around the point on the other end, where to best to place the flight recorder, etc.

The last practice flight was on Thursday, just the day before my scheduled record attempt. On landing, the tire on my right main landing gear blew and my heart sank. I needed to source a new tire and tube as well as get it all mounted in less than 24 hours. The problem was that the tube has an angled valve stem which is pretty rare and needs to be special ordered. Attila, the local mechanic, and I drove around town trying to find one but had to admit defeat after trying a handful of places. The only option for me was to drive to the ArrowCopter factory and get one from there.

So, on Friday, I saddled up bright and early and drove the 2 hours to the factory after calling ahead and making sure they actually had one in stock. I picked it up and drove straight to the airport (3 hours). Getting the new tire on the rim and the rim mounted with all the break lines secure took longer than we expected but I was smiling again. The time was 1:30 pm and my official observer was still available for me to do the flight.

The day before, I emptied the left tank and about half of the right one to be as light as possible. My flight time was only going to be about 15 minutes but I left myself one hour's worth of fuel. I figured that speed wise it wasn't going to make a lot of difference but I would have peace of mind and one thing less to worry about.

In the presence of the observer I installed the flight recorder in the gyro and we discussed the general procedure. I was to start normally, warm up the engine in the vicinity of the airport and then do a flying start, passing the threshold of runway 16 at or below 50 ft AGL. Then climb up to 1000 AGL since I was passing straight overhead several small towns. After rounding the turn point I was to fly straight back at the same altitude and pass the threshold of 16 in the opposite direction. We agreed to maintain radio contact, so that I could give him advance warning of my departure and arrival. He was going to be up in the tower which is perfectly located abeam the threshold of runway 16.

So that's exactly what I did. From about 500 feet AGL I did a shallow descent, clocking a good 220 km/h on the ASI. On the radio I counted 3-2-1-mark, hoping that the observer got the time right. Then I pulled up and climbed to 1000 AGL at a speed of 135 km/h. Then I leveled off and set 100% cruise power smack on course to the turn point. I checked my ground speed and it was about 25 km/h lower because of the headwind. The wind would help me on the return leg, but over all it was going to hurt me more than help. I would have preferred a wind still day. Once settled down in cruise I saw between 200 and 210 km/h on the ASI.

The turn around the point I executed as previously practiced, making sure not to cut it too close and risk invalidating the flight. During the flight I concentrated on flying perfectly coordinated, moving controls as little as possible while keeping heading and altitude nailed. From time to time a glanced at the engine gauges but everything was fine and dandy. Nearing the finish gate I once again started a shallow descent and did my little countdown thing.

After landing I noticed that I had been pretty tensed up during the flight. Even though I held the stick only with four fingers, my neck and shoulders were pretty tight. The observer did again observe the removal of the flight recorder from the aircraft, then we sat down and went through the paper work together.

The next day I submitted the paper work along with the file recorded by the flight recorder to the FAI. Just now I checked on the FAI website and saw my record claim listed as "preliminary record claim received". Whether all the paper work is in proper order or whether I tripped over one of the numerous requirements I don't know for sure. It takes months for the FAI to process the claim.

But just for the record: my official speed was 181 km/h. That's 50 km/h better than the record set by Andy Keech almost to the day 9 years ago.

Greetings, -- Chris.
 
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AirCommandPilot

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Great! That's a huge margin. Keep us informed on the "Official" outcome.
 

twistair

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Congratulations Chris!!

I'm always amazed with your inspiration in gyros!
 

Vance

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Congratulations Chris!

Congratulations Chris!

Thank you for sharing the fun.
 

swilliams

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Great story on the making of a record. Thanks for posting.

Sincerely SWilliams
 

Steve_UK

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I'm not a pilot but have been lucky enough to fly in Mi-24 Hind, Mi-2, Mi-17, Lynx HAS3, Gliders, GA
Well done Chris - a big pat on the back for you, Arrowcopter and modern gyrocopters.
 

ckurz7000

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Thanks for your congratulations. Even though the piloting technique is nothing to be particularly proud of -- after all, you're simply flying straight and level as fast as you can -- it feels like something larger. At least my kids can now claim in school that their daddy is a world record holder :)

Anyway, if this one is accepted I will try to pick off a couple of other ones, too.

Greetings, -- Chris.
 
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C. Beaty

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Congratulations, Chris.

What do you expect set the limit on speed?

Were you running out of forward stick? Was it drag divergence at the advancing rotor blade tip?
 

ckurz7000

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Thanks Chuck.

The limit simply was drag being balanced by thrust: I could have used more hp. I still had enough forward stick left. It didn't feel squirrely although yaw stability doesn't improve with high speeds. Felt fine flying.

-- Chris.
 

StanFoster

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Way to go Chris! What a notch in your belt you just made. I love how you just DO stuff.
 

fara

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Congrats my friend. That's a good 113 mph. Very nice.
 

Dmorris

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I currently own a 2015 CarbonCub. I have owned a 2013 Carbon Cub, 2 RAF 2000's, Xenon, A36 & several
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Awesome just awesome! Congratulations!
 

Jean Claude

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The current record holder in the category Gyroplane with less than 1000 kg MTOW is Andrew Keech, who set it at 131 km back in 2007.
Yet it was carefully measured by Aeronautical Research Committee in 1939 the speed of 156 km/h for the Cierva C.30 "Rota" in level flight (765 kg 140 hp).
 

ckurz7000

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Yet it was carefully measured by Aeronautical Research Committee in 1939 the speed of 156 km/h for the Cierva C.30 "Rota" in level flight (765 kg 140 hp).
That may very well be, Jean Claude, but the speed must be measured under the conditions set by the FAI. It is not a direct indication of the maximum cruising speed of the aircraft.

-- Chris.
 
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