Flight review of the Gyro Technic gyroplane

GyroRon

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So I spent the day yesterday at the carolina barnstormers fly in and got a chance to visit with Dennis and see his machines and blades and whatnot.

Its been a LONG time since I last seen him or his machines. Matter of fact the first few ( and last few ) times I had seen him and his machine, he was just a individual who had built a very detailed CNC work of art gyro for his personal use and he had no plans of going into business at the time. I wanted to fly his machine way back then but it was so new, it had not been flown at all yet and still needed a little work before it would be ready.

So Fast forward to yesterday and here he is with a giant trailer loaded with blades and samples and a real nice black 582 powered single place. We got to talking and catching up, and I asked could I finally fly his machine and see how it handles.... and he said sure thing!

So anyway, I am not the best person at describing how something flies... but I can tell you good and bad things.

First off, as you would imagine, the build quality is second to none on this machine. EVERYWHERE you look, every part is CNC machined, and either powder coated or anodized. NO corners are cut, nothing is done half assed, if painted a different color you could imagine this is how a gyro would be built and put together if NASA was in charge and it was going to Mars....

The seat was also super comfortable, much more so than literally any other gyro I have sat in. The instrument panel was also very nice and all the instruments were very visible and the whole panel was stable.... there wasn't much if any shake present in the pod like some gyros.

The throttle handle is very different from a normal gyro. It is essentially the same type of design you would find in a helicopter. A lever you lift to work the prerotator and the end of that lever is a grip you twist for throttle. I was not a fan of this design.... until I used it. I will say it would take even a gifted natural pilot a little bit of time to get used to the twist grip throttle, and some pilots will take a LONG time for it to come natural for them, but once mastered it is a very elegant and simple way of doing throttle control and prerotation control. After my flight in it, I would want to leave it as is and not swap for a traditional quadrant style throttle.

The pre rotator by the way was super smooth and very effective. I saw over 200 RRPM without trying to get high RRPM. In other words, just engaging it casually at a relatively low engine rpm while taxiing to the runway I saw 150 RRPM and one more engagement of it as I turned onto the runway I saw 200. I would imagine that if I was on a relatively short runway and wanted a short takeoff, if stopped and holding the brakes, I would not be surprised if this pre rotator set up could achieve at least 250 -280 RRPM. On a relatively long runway like where I flew yesterday, there is no reason to pre rotate much more than 150 RRPM so I had no reason to test the max capability of the system.

In flight, not sure what all to say.... It flew great. The tail was rock solid, no tail wag, no rudder corrections needed based on power settings, basically once airborne if wanted you could take your feet off the pedals and not need to touch them again till time to land. If you wanted to add rudder in turns or to play around ( so to fly sideways for example ), the rudder was very effective. Performance-wise it is comparable to most single place 582 machines, nice rate of climb... plenty of reserve power, 65-70 mph cruise speed, would maintain level flight at less then 5000 rpms at slower airspeeds, etc... The gyro felt very stable, yet was still playful and could easily be tossed around if you like to " yank and bank ". I can not say anything negative at all about how this gyro flies. In fact I very much enjoyed flying it, and ended up flying it about twice as long as I had intended to fly it because I was having so much fun.

The only thing negative I could come up with is the pump style control stick. I will admit, the simplicity of a pump stick is great and I believe there is much less chance of a control failure with a pump stick ( verses the usual walking beam controls ) the downside to a pump stick is the stick moves in a arch that can be too much travel for someone strapped in tight in the seat. On this machine I had to have the shoulder harness loose, and even then, during normal level flight the stick was at about where my knee was, about as far away as I could reach.... if the nose needed to go low, I had to lean forward in the seat so my arm would be long enough to keep the stick in my hand. I would expect this machine is set up for Dennis and he is slightly taller and bigger than me, so maybe it is fine for him.... and perhaps in the case of say I bought a kit and assembled it, there is a way to adjust the stick position so it is closer to your lap during cruise flight. To be clear, I don't have any problem with a pump type controls, I actually like it for simplicity and less fail points... but I would not want the stick so far forward if that machine was my machine.... again, this is something that can probably be adjusted or a different bend to the stick could likely solve this.

The suspension did not feel super spongy. I would imagine it is just enough to help it have a smooth ride on rougher hard surfaces or somewhat smooth turf airports. It would not be as smooth at rough fields as a dominator gyro, but.... not many other gyros are any better in this respect.

Otherwise great machine, very clever engineering went into this machine and overall an awesome package.

I should mention that the razor blades were extremely smooth as well. With plenty of energy in them for landings. I even tried a set on a dominator, and was very impressed with them, they were smooth and performed as good or better than the dragon wings that we took off the machine. I am sure Dennis would like me to say more about the blades, but there isn't much to say.... They performed exactly as you would expect a rotorblade to perform, they were very nicely built, and the highlight was they were GLASS SMOOTH, as in NO stickshake. Being that dragon wings are off the market... if I were to need a set of rotors right now, there is absolutely no question... I am buying Razor blades. Even if Dragon wings made a return to market, they would have to be a decent amount of savings for me to wan them over these Razor blades, if for no other reason just look at the hub bar and its adjustments and how the blade straps attach to the blades verses the simple and effective but quite basic set up on a set of dragon wings.

I turned on a Go pro on the gyro before my flight, maybe there will be some good footage off that, that can be posted.... I really put this machine through its paces and came away impressed and wanting one.
 

Resasi

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Ron, truly delighted to see a decent detailed report on a gyro that I always felt was not only well engineered, but decent to fly, by someone who was as knowledgable about gyros as yourself.

When I first met you you were kind enough to give Stuart and I some good tips about the half built Hornet we had bought to Bensen Days. We finished the Hornet and I loved flying in it despite the various shortcomings I came to realise it had.

It was during that build that Denis and I first met online and swapped a few things about areas we were familiar with and the other wasn’t. Denis went on to build more gyros improving them all the time, and the GT-VX1 is a refinement of the process he is engaged in...constant improvement. He always wants to improve, make it better, regardless of time or cost.

When I asked Stuart to visit Denis for me for an eyes on the VX1 he came back hugely impressed, in fact, stated that it made him feel that with our Hornet build we had fabricated a death trap.

I had always wanted a single with a tad more oomph, and some legs, bit like Roy Davis’s little powerhouse but bigger fuel tanks, so getting back in contact with Denis and working on the VX2 has been a great privilege, so to get your feed back on how you feel the VX1 flies gives me great hope for the the VX2.
 
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Resasi

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Here is a picture taken at Bensen Days 2021 of the GT-VX1 assembled kit with the mast in the folded position, behind that is the GT-VX2 912 version with the engine on and anodised.
Blue and Silver copy.jpg
 
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Gyro Technic

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Ron,
I can't thank you enough for your kind words!
It was a pleasure to watch you fly the VX-1, and I was anxious to hear some honest feedback from such an experienced gyro pilot.
So happy you remembered to turn on the GoPro! I have looked at the videos briefly and I think we got some really good footage!
Now I'll be able to see where you went after you headed off with my machine for quite some time! I wondered if you were coming back! :)

I'm going to spend one last day with the wonderful Carolina Barnstormers today, and then it is 2 days travel back to Minnesota.
I will then condense the video into a nice presentation and post it back here hopefully within the week.
Again, thank you Ron! It was so nice to see you again, and to have you back in the gyro community!
Denis
 
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GyroRon

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Ron, truly delighted to see a decent detailed report on a gyro that I always felt was not only well engineered, but decent to fly, by someone who was as knowledgable about gyros as yourself.

When I first met you you were kind enough to give Stuart and I some good tips about the half built Hornet we had bought to Bensen Days. We finished the Hornet and I loved flying in it despite the various shortcomings I came to realise it had.

It was during that build that Denis and I first met online and swapped a few things about areas we were familiar with and the other wasn’t. Denis went on to build more gyros improving them all the time, and the GT-VX1 is a refinement of the process he is engaged in...constant improvement. He always wants to improve, make it better, regardless of time or cost.

When I asked Stuart to visit Denis for me for an eyes on the VX1 he came back hugely impressed, in fact, stated that it made him feel that with our Hornet build we had fabricated a death trap.

I had always wanted a single with a tad more oomph, and some legs, bit like Roy Davis’s little powerhouse but bigger fuel tanks, so getting back in contact with Denis and working on the VX2 has been a great privilege, so to get your feed back on how you feel the VX1 flies gives me great hope for the the VX2.

To be honest, I think you will be very happy with your gyro when you guys get finished with it and get it flying.

Scott Lewis built a 912S powered Dominator single place several years ago and I got a chance to fly it.... It was everything that was good about a 582 powered dominator, with a good bit of extra punch, and of course the peace of mind of flying a engine known for reliability.

Scotts gyro did have issues with the 60 inch prop. 3 blade Warp drive 60 inch prop is not enough blade area for 100HP. The prop was twisted so far, that at low airspeed the prop was actually stalled, and a 582 machine would have stronger acceleration and performance.... but once the airspeed was over about 25-30 mph the prop would unstall and the 912S would kick in with 100 strong horses and the gyro was a rocket. He ended up replacing the prop with a powerfin with 4 or 5 blades and it made a huge difference. I can't remember what prop you chose, but keep in mind you will need more than a 3 blade prop if your diameter isn't much over 60 inches.

If your keeping the throttle set up same as the black gyro I flew, be sure to practice and practice and practice with it.... you need to have it be instinctual that to add power you twist it outwards and less power inwards. I think that would be the only downfall to that design, as it doesn't come naturally to people who don't fly helicopters.
 

GyroRon

Former Gyro know it all
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Ron,
I can't thank you enough for your kind words!
It was a pleasure to watch you fly the VX-1, and I was anxious to hear some honest feedback from such an experienced gyro pilot.
So happy you remembered to turn on the GoPro! I have looked at the videos briefly and I think we got some really good footage!
Now I'll be able to see where you went after you headed off with my machine for quite some time! I wondered if you were coming back! :)

I'm going to spend one last day with the wonderful Carolina Barnstormers today, and then it is 2 days travel back to Minnesota.
I will then condense the video into a nice presentation and post it back here hopefully within the week.
Again, thank you Ron! It was so nice to see you again, and to have you back in the gyro community!
Denis


No problem. I appreciate the opportunity to have been able to finally fly it. I remember telling you I would probably only be flying it for maybe 5 minutes, but after I got it in the air and saw how nice it was flying, I decided I should go have some fun with it, so I flew it out of the pattern and buzzed some farm fields and whatnot.

As nice as your gyros are engineered, and how nicely the parts are made.... and now with how I see how well they fly.... I think anyone in the market for a single place gyro would be hard pressed to find anything better.

We didn't talk about it, but I think the two things that ought to be next on your to do list, is to design a two place version, and a pod or even semi enclosure version. ( think along the lines of a sportcopter ).

And I gotta say, I was kinda sad when we had to take those razor blades off my gyro!
 

ultracruiser41

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I want to thank Dennis for hanging with us Barnstormers this weekend..... a joy to have you!!!!!
Machine...... is BEAUTIFUL!!!!!

Thanks Ron for the review!!! 👍🏻
 

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13brv3

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We didn't talk about it, but I think the two things that ought to be next on your to do list, is to design a two place version, and a pod or even semi enclosure version. ( think along the lines of a sportcopter ).

As someone who's shopping for a gyro, I'd definitely second the pod or semi-enclosure recommendation. It's on my must-have list. Try to resist the temptation to CNC it from a giant chunk of aluminum though :)

Rusty
 

Resasi

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Scotts gyro did have issues with the 60 inch prop. 3 blade Warp drive 60 inch prop is not enough blade area for 100HP.
With you Ron, I had a chat with Daryl at Warp and he was familiar and very informative about what I would need for the 100hp. We had 62” to play with so his recommendation was a 4 blade with wider blades which I have done.

If your keeping the throttle set up same as the black gyro I flew, be sure to practice and practice and practice with it.... you need to have it be instinctual that to add power you twist it outwards and less power inwards.
Yes my feeling was that I would retain the quadrant throttle, rather than try to adapt to something completely new at this stage in the game.

Some form of partial pod or fairing along the lines of a motorcycle fairing was certainly a thought I have had.

That along with possible a small windshield, which I know Denis is considering
 

Gyro Technic

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Thanks for the kind words everybody!

I finally got a chance to trim down the video footage from Ron's test flight!

As I watched him head off over the horizon, and not wanting to come back.....
I knew that was a good sign and he was diggin' it!

I captioned the video with some of his very nice comments.

Enjoy!

 
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Resasi

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Very nicely edited Denis, another great Vid .:)
 

Kevin_Richey

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So, Bensen Days has moved to NC? (As per the title @ the beginning of video)
Very enjoyable flight video, Denis!

Ron's takeoff roll surprised me...I have seen him fly in person @ Mentone previously*, & wondered why his roll wasn't straight (as I would expect) down the runway. I also noticed he didn't try to correct his angle back into alignment w/ the runway heading as he accelerated, as a beginner might.

Then I saw the windsock a-blowin' off to the right! Ron knew the correct angle to better utilize the wind's direction & sensed the amount of power, rotorblade speed, & space on the tarmac to lift off nicely @ an angle more into the breeze, before running out of pavement into the grass.

"Stick" still has the touch even after being away from flying rotorcraft, having totally gone over to the "Dark Side Of Aviation", where the wings are stuck in one position.

*For Mentone 2012, I drove across most of the US to attend, towing my gyro so I could finally fly during the convention. Picked up Chuck S., who lives in Boise, Idaho, along the way. He used to fly a Dominator, & states it was the most enjoyable gyro to fly that he had owned!

We approached Ron Awad @ the 2012 PRA Convention, asking him to take Chuck up for a ride in his tandem Yamaha-powered Dominator, telling Ron that Chuck used to fly a Dominator in the past. Ron gladly took him up for about 20 minutes. I'm sure Ron gave him his usual Dominator routine.

Chuck came back from that ride w/ a HUGE smile on his face. Said it was the BEST TIME, having that thrill once again. He made sure to donate plenty to Ron's fuel expenses. Chuck served in the Idaho Nat'l Guard in the helicopter unit for decades, getting lots of stick time in them even though he wasn't officially a pilot. Whatever the military designation, it was the Hughes 500 that he flew in most of the time.

He started out w/ a Bensen gyroglider back in the 1960's, utilizing the great "runways" the state of Idaho provided when they closed off long stretches of US Hwy. 30 after I-80 (now I-84) was completed next to it. I-80N was to differentiate from I-80S that goes on west from Utah to Sacramento, CA.

Chuck relates that their gang had ooddles of fun towing each other for miles, becoming adapt @ controlling the engine-less gyro. They then progressed to adding the Mac engine & towing w/ that extra weight on the air frame, getting used to the difference. Then they went tow-less.

He said the saddest day of his life was when he could no longer climb up into his Dominator, due to pain from hips & knees, which have all since been replaced w/ artificial ones. He sold it figuring his time in the sun was over.

Chuck is still kicking along @ some 87 yrs. of age. Still has a gyro project in his shop behind his home, a Barnett J4B, I believe, w/ a Continental for it's power plant. He realizes he'll not get to finishing it & would like to sell it to someone who would be able to finish it & get it up into the air.
 
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Kevin_Richey

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I've been highly tempted to get one of the Gyro-Technic machines. Have seen them in person @ Mentone 2012 & 2015, being highly impressed w/ the workmanship & w/ Denis as a human being!

His mighty clever way of allowing the mast to tilt forward for doorway clearance into a garage or trailer, while still providing support for his not-too-tall tail in that lower configuration, is one of the reasons. Watching Leigh's 912 project's progression onto one of Denis's air frames, w/ those various solutions is another...I think I see a Yamaha-powered Gyro-Technic on my horizon!
 

Resasi

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:) My horizon, envisged/revealed/imagined sights were set on, some time ago that I would have a Gyro Technic product...yet to be realised, would be in my future. Certainly be in dead centre of said sights.

Life/circumstance/fate has a frustrating habit of disturbing this happily imaginary route.:(

I look on it as the 'Stan 2 week principle.'

If your wishes can be delayed chances are that life/circumstance/fate, will ensure that will happen. :cry:

But then we always have so much else to be grateful for. :)
 
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rcflier

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Leigh, your post is disturbing...

As we have seen pictures of your finished-looking gyro - has something bad happened to you?

Medical issues or never being able to fly it in the UK??

CHeers
Erik
 

StanFoster

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Leigh....I have had the pleasure to personally talk to you at Bensen Days, and what an outstanding person is all I could say about you.
Most of us know the "in about 2 weeks" phrase came from my always be given that answer to drag on my waiting for Helicycle part shipments, that ended up being months instead.

Could you clarify your "Stan 2 week principle" statement? My mind isnt grabbing any kind of similar context using that in your post.

I hope all is well, but we cant help but feel all is not.
 
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