Fixed wing pilot moving from Japan to Utah

ElvisLives

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Hello fellow aviators, I'm Tim Cipullo. I got my private pilot license in Chile years ago and flew fixed wing there and the Philippines. I'm currently in Japan and not flying these days. Next year, I plan to return to the United States after many years abroad, settle in Utah, and get back into flying. I'm trying to decide between a gyro or a fixed wing LSA. Hoping to learn from you all more about the pros and cons of gyros and figure out how to experience gyro flying in that area (Utah, Idaho, Montana).
 

Brian Jackson

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Hello fellow aviators, I'm Tim Cipullo. I got my private pilot license in Chile years ago and flew fixed wing there and the Philippines. I'm currently in Japan and not flying these days. Next year, I plan to return to the United States after many years abroad, settle in Utah, and get back into flying. I'm trying to decide between a gyro or a fixed wing LSA. Hoping to learn from you all more about the pros and cons of gyros and figure out how to experience gyro flying in that area (Utah, Idaho, Montana).
Hello Tim, and welcome.
 

Vance

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Welcome to the Rotary Wing Forum ElvisLives.

Flying is a very personal passion and in my opinion fixed wing light sport aircraft and gyroplanes are not really comparable.

A fixed wing pilot typically asks about how far, how fast and how high.

For me these are not relevant questions as related to my gyroplane flying.

The destination is my excuse to go flying and seldom the point of the flight.

How far or how fast are simply not relevant to me.

For me a lot of the fun of flying a gyroplane is the things I see. If I climb to 12,000 feet above the ground I see more in less detail. I like to fly around 1,000 to 1,500 feet above the ground and take in the details.

A simple flight from Bountiful to Hurricane can be a great adventure that I don’t want to end too soon so why would I want to end it sooner by flying fast?

Get a few lessons in a gyroplane to see if gyroplane are a fit for you and your missions.

The difference compared to a light fixed wing is greater than I could have imagined.
 

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ElvisLives

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Thank you for taking the time to reply, Vance. That is what seems to be the big question - do you want to fly for fun or fly to get places? Obviously, you can have fun in an LSA and you can get places in a gyro, but the focus of each seems to be different. I can't wait to get into a gyro so I will know what the differences really feel like vs. fixed wing. This summer I will be back in Utah, Idaho, and Montana to house hunt. Hopefully, I will be able to arrange a test flight. As I mentioned, I am very rusty, so if I decide to fly a gyro, it seems to make sense to go straight into that instead of further ingraining old fixed wing habits.
 

DavePA11

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ElvisLives - Yes it depends on your mission.

Keep in mine the high elevations out here and far distances between airports with fuel. I purchased a Husky with bush tires to fly to all the great off airport spots in Idaho. Husky has 50 gallons of fuel and travels around 120mph so has good range between airports to fuel up.

Many of the gyros are more for local flying due to slow cruise speeds with limited fuel providing less range. But can add temporary tank in spare seat with some gyros..

Fixed wing aircraft can be less expensive to purchase compared to the cost of gyros, and with fixed wing it’s possible to insure them at reasonable cost otherwise have to self insure the gyro...

Fixed wing are easier to fix if get into an accident off airport were as in a gyro the damage is pretty extensive if you hit a rotor or tip it over. Usually have to replace rotor, mast, frame and tail/fuselage.

Gyros tend to catch on fire more often during crashes than fixed wing and need to consider ease of escaping to avoid extensive burns.

Gyros are more fun to fly. Would recommend 914 or 915 for higher elevations here.

There are more fixed wing instructors than gyro instructors so may take longer to get flying in the gyro. I suspect there is higher accident rate with gyros than fixed wing too.

Map out where you want to go and figure out what to buy.

I prefer flying gyros, but depends on mission like Vance said. Gyros are great for local flying around here.

Dave
 

Vance

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I love it when I am able to communicate accurately with a new friend; which is not always the case.

You have articulated the difference well Tim.

I agree with your conclusion about training.

Ingrained responses are hard to change and flying a gyroplane is very different the flying an airplane.

You will find value in reviewing the gyroplane portion of the Rotorcraft Flying Handbook before your first gyroplane flight.

https://www.ronsgyros.com/Gyro_Handbook.pdf

I have a special introduction to a gyroplane deal if you find yourself in California.

We start in the morning at 9:00 with a few hours of getting to know each other and getting to better understand how a gyroplane flies and briefing the mission.

I make the takeoff and give you the controls around 800 feet above the ground.

I talk you through the flight as we head out toward the beach. Usually I can stay off the controls and I will let you know any time I am on them.

Once we are outside the airspace I take the controls and do a little dance with steep turns, pedal turns, slow flight and a power off vertical descent just to give you an idea of how far from trouble we are.

I give you back the controls and you fly up the beach at 600 feet above the ground. This is a great exercise because there is usually a steady wind and you flight path is curved so you get used to the nose being pointed in a different direction than our direction of flight.

Most of gyroplane flight is done with visual reference and the Pacific Ocean provides a wonderfully clear horizon for reference.

We fly through the Avilla Pass where you usually get to experience turbulence.

I handle the radio calls at the sometimes busy San Luis Obispo airport.

How far into the landing I have you fly depends on traffic and how well you are doing.

I take the controls before the touchdown and you follow me on the controls as I talk you through the landing.

We have a nice lunch at the Spirit of San Luis restaurant and debrief at in detail about what you have learned so far.

After lunch I make the takeoff and give you the controls as we make our way toward one of my practice areas.

We do turns around a point and S turns over a road before heading back to the Santa Maria Airport where I demonstrate another landing and takeoff and then give you the controls as we fly the pattern. As we begin our descent I take the throttle and rudder so you just have the manage they cyclic so you can make a landing.

After a debrief we brief on takeoffs and landings and try some more landings and a takeoff.

We will go back to the hanger and debrief and review the flight on video on a big flat screen TV. The video audio has my instruction and clearly shows the instruments and the sight picture.

Usually by the end of the day you have flown around two and a half hours, seen or done everything that is required for a gyroplane certificate and you leave with the video of your flight on a memory stick. I try to be done by five and often fail.

The cost for this onetime special day is $450.

Learning to fly anything is a big commitment in both time and money so I feel there is value is a daylong introduction.
 

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ventana7

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Much as I love flying my gyro in Colorado if I were planning on flying in Montana, Utah, Idaho I would definately get a fixed wing, for many of the reasons Dave mentioned. In a FW you will feel much more comfortable seeing a much greater chunk of those 3 wonderful states.

Rob
 

PW_Plack

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A new consideration in Utah - our governor just signed a bill requiring liability insurance for all aircraft based in the state. The light aircraft industry here did it to themselves, providing several recent, highly publicized examples of uninsured crashes which left motorists and homeowners with injuries and property damage without compensation.

This definitely tilts the balance toward fixed-wing, because most insurers don't like to issue liability policies without hull insurance. I got a quote for my single-seat gyro a couple years ago; the annual premium would have been about 1/3 the cost of replacing the gyro.

If you're not afraid of an older certified plane, they're almost always going to be cheaper than a gyro of comparable airworthiness, even without the new Utah insurance requirement. There was an Aeronca Champ (7AC) for sale here recently for $17k.
 

ElvisLives

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Thank you all for the terrific responses. It is great to find a community of people sharing their honest experience around a shared interest (maybe fascination or love would be a better word).

Vance - thanks for the details about the daylong introduction to gyros. It sounds amazing. I'm not sure I will be able to get away to California this summer (lots of family commitments in a short time), but it is something I will consider when I move back next year.

Dave, ventana7, and PW_Plack - thanks for the honest opinions on merits of fixed wing and gyros. I appreciate your keeping an open mind to alternatives even if you love gyro flying. I want to choose what to fly with a clear picture of the limitations of each choice. Though I suspect we've all been at a point where our right brains might overrule the left brain and you go with what feels right.

If I go with a fixed wing, I am leaning toward a used SLSA. Used older certified planes are a bargain. I used to own a Beechcraft Musketeer that I flew at sea level and it was cheap and reliable. I would not try to fly it in the Rockies, though, just like the Tomahawk or Cherokee 140 I trained in. LSAs seem to offer better performance at a similar price. There are several with fuel injected Rotax 912 engines that climb at around 1,100 fpm. Something like an Evektor Harmony with a 914 turbo engine would seem to offer a bigger margin of safety at altitude. Most of the LSAs offer much better visibility out of the cockpit than older certified planes, which is actually an important consideration. For me, a big part of the enjoyment of flying is the view, and feeling like you are peering out from the bottom of a barrel takes away from that.

Gyros, even fully enclosed ones, seem to offer great visibility in spades. I agree that a 914 or 915 turbo engine would be a good idea at elevation. I also understand that proper flight training is even more important than equipment, so that would have to be part of the plan for any aircraft.

What would you all consider to be "local flying" in a gyro? Would Arches or Yellowstone (250-300 miles) be realistic destinations from Ogden? Is flying more fatiguing in a gyro than a fixed wing? And does it make much difference if the gyro is fully enclosed like a Cavalon for what the comfortable range is?

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts.
 

Vance

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Everyone is different so I am speaking for myself Tim.

From my experience Santa Maria (KSMX) to Provo (KPVU) direct is 524 nautical miles and 624 nautical miles the way I flew. It was a lovely one day flight in a Cavalon.

Ogden (KOGD) to Bozeman (KBZN) is 277 nautical miles direct and closer to 300 nautical miles the way I fly would likely be a lovely one day round trip in a nice gyroplane in nice weather. It is not a flight I have made.

Several times I have flown from KPVU to the Phoenix area (BXK) 460 nautical miles and it is an easy one day flight in a Cavalon.

I follow roads so in case I have a forced landing I don’t have far to walk and it is usually the lowest route through the mountains. I make an effort to see interesting things and stop at interesting airports.

I have had a head injury (TBI) and I am old (71) so I am predisposed to hypoxia. Above 9,000 feet density altitude I use oxygen.

I found Utah a lovely place to fly a gyroplane with lots of nice airports and fabulous scenery.

Salt Lake City (KSLC) is surprisingly welcoming to gyroplanes for a class B airport and Salt Lake Center has a controller who is a gyroplane pilot.

Thunderstorms are a problem for all aircraft.
 

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Tyger

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Is flying more fatiguing in a gyro than a fixed wing? And does it make much difference if the gyro is fully enclosed like a Cavalon for what the comfortable range is?
Here is a cute video made by a kid (literally) who is learning to fly gyros.
The reason I link you to it, though, are the comments made by Greg Gremminger about flying XC in a gyro, starting around 1:20.
 

DavePA11

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A new consideration in Utah - our governor just signed a bill requiring liability insurance for all aircraft based in the state.

PW Plack - Do you know when this will come into effect?

Unfortunately, this will dictate what can be flown in Utah since not sure it’s possible to find an insurance company to provide liability insurance.

Dave
 

Tyger

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That's interesting, re insurance within a state. I don't think it can have any effect on transient aircraft, though. Will it apply also to ultralights?

I believe that, in general, state (and local) gov'ts have a difficult time writing laws concerning aircraft operations, as these are usually superseded by federal law and regulations.
E.g.
 
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Tyger

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A new consideration in Utah - our governor just signed a bill requiring liability insurance for all aircraft based in the state...

This definitely tilts the balance toward fixed-wing, because most insurers don't like to issue liability policies without hull insurance. I got a quote for my single-seat gyro a couple years ago; the annual premium would have been about 1/3 the cost of replacing the gyro.
Or maybe it doesn't tip the balance...
Looking into it further, the new Utah law seems to apply only to fixed-wing aircraft!
72-10-111.5. Aircraft public liability insurance requirements -- Proof of public
40 liability insurance.
41 (1) Subject to Subsection (2), an aircraft owner shall:
42 (a) maintain public liability insurance coverage for the aircraft that conforms to the
43 requirements described in Section 31A-22-1300; and
44 (b) provide a certificate of insurance issued by an insurer as proof of the owner's valid
45 public liability insurance covering the aircraft as part of any lease agreement with a term of six
46 months or more between the aircraft owner and a public airport.
47 (2) Subsection (1) applies to an aircraft only if the aircraft is:
48 (a) an operable fixed-wing aircraft; and
49
(b) used for flight.
 

DavePA11

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That is good news Tyger. Thanks for digging more into it.
 
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Tyger

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I bet the media are reporting "all aircraft" without actually even reading the law.
 

schmoe90

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For ultralights, it's worth noting that the FAA calls them "vehicles" rather than "aircraft", so maybe they don't need it either.

The USUA (used to?) have a pretty cheap liability only insurance program (that specifically refused rotorcraft) for ultralight to light sport aircraft.
 

WaspAir

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I bet the media are reporting "all aircraft" without actually even reading the law.
It's not just the media that suffers from this "aircraft" bias. I have seen many AOPA articles over the years that refer to the "best selling piston aircraft manufacturer" but never mentioned Robinson, at times when they were significantly outselling every airplane builder.

I have sometimes mentioned in conversation that I fly mostly gliders, balloons, gyroplanes, and helicopters, only to be asked, "Do you fly aircraft, too?"
 
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