Gyroplane operation on public roads


RAF/Sparrowhawk/SC 2.5 FI
I've read the FAR's and posts concerning altitude restrictions. I suppose a landing is considered zero altitude? But that said, does anybody have experience in the legality of operations from public or private roads, long driveways, etc. Example, I trailer into a campground and get permission from the "host", can one depart from the driveway assuming it is done safely and with positive traffic stoppage?


Gold Supporter
You cannot land or take-off from public roads unless it's an emergency landing.

The best bet is to call the FAA. They are not as bad as people make them out to be. They have always been helpful to me for over 30 years.
The truth is I do not think we knows flying out of a drive way but suspect you would need the police to stop traffic as we have not asked the FAA either and have only seen or heard of take-offs from private property.

We must stay 500 feet away away from people, animals, and structures so that could be a problem from a drive way unless it's a 600 foot drive way.

The only law I remember that applies is that you must get permission to land or take-off from private property. However even with permission here in San Diego there are noise abatement laws that do no allow us to do so. We must fly out of the incorporated city.

I've landed on many dirt road in FW's out in the country/desert but I could not tell if it was a public dirt road or not and there was no one around to ask if it was alright.
If other people are driving off-road jeeps, dune buggies and bikes there I feel it not a public road.
It is legal to land a helicopter in most federal parks so we should be able to land there too.
Last edited:


RAF/Sparrowhawk/SC 2.5 FI
[h=1][FONT=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]Respectfully - 91.119 says: Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no [/FONT]person[FONT=arial, helvetica, sans-serif] may operate an [/FONT]aircraft[FONT=arial, helvetica, sans-serif] below the following altitudes: (yadda, yadda). So I don't think the 500 foot person, place or thing clearance rule applies. I concur that any Private property rules (and a good attorney) supersede just about anything. Not sure what "FW" is abbreviation for? My intentions are more for roads into RV parks and campgrounds, whether privately owned or under some public officer's domain, while driving cross-country. Can I call the FAA and use your name? :cool: Sound ordinances are one aspect I had not thought of. That's the real problem, you may not be aware of any law until after you break it, but ignorance is no excuse. I have operated our 54 ft wingspan, Grumman TBM Avenger from public highways, folded the wings, and towed through towns before. But this was always in conjunction with a civic event with prior permission and outstanding support from the law enforcement. We also checked for obstacle clearance beforehand! I have also landed my Cessna 185 on numerous public roads in small Idaho towns where it was known to be allowed as it brought in new guests for breakfast or lodging.[/FONT][/h]
FW is short for Fixed Wing. If I understand what you are suggesting- traveling the country in an RV with a flying machine in tow for short local flights- that is something I have dreamed of also, but requires a VTOL or STOL aircraft. Ignoring the legal hurdles,LOL, not sure a gyro is the best option unless it would have jump takeoff capability. There are some small helicopters that would definitely work, as well as some folding fixed wing aircraft- Kitfox, Kolb, Backyard Flyer, some of the trikes. Unfortunately, all of these are susceptible to trailer rash. So, the aircraft that I have been considering- after years of saying, "No way."- is a powered parachute. Easy to store, legal ultralight, quick to deploy and recover, can be footlaunched or not, and is "crowd friendly". Something to think about.


Gyroplane CFI
§ 91.119 Minimum safe altitudes: General.
Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
(a)Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.
(b)Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.
(c)Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.

In other words it appears to me that the Federal Aviation Regulations do not prohibit a takeoff or landing on a road. The 500 foot limit to any person, vessel, vehicle or structure does not apply when necessary for takeoff or landing.

Local laws and noise ordinances may be somewhat more restrictive.

There may also be wildlife preserves that need to be avoided.

In an emergency I would just land and worry about the fallout later.

I have had two off airport landings with no repercussions or paper work.


Gyroplane CFI
My understanding is this is legal as far as the FAA is concerned. It's up to the next level of government to make the rules. For Texas where I live, there is a $200 fee for taking off on a public road. And it appears there are no restrictions on private roads.


Sec. 24.021. TAKING OFF, LANDING, OR MANEUVERING AIRCRAFT ON HIGHWAYS, ROADS, OR STREETS; OFFENSE. (a) A person commits an offense if the person takes off, lands, or maneuvers an aircraft, whether heavier or lighter than air, on a public highway, road, or street except:

(1) when necessary to prevent serious injury to a person or property;

(2) during or within a reasonable time after an emergency; or

(3) as provided by Section 24.022.

(b) An offense under Subsection (a) is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $25 and not more than $200.

(c) The procedure prescribed by Section 543.003 applies to a violation of this section.

Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 30.04, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Sec. 24.022. USE OF AIRCRAFT ON COUNTY ROADS. (a) A commissioners court of a county may enact ordinances to ensure the safe use of county roads by aircraft. An ordinance may:

(1) limit the kinds of aircraft that may use the roads;

(2) establish the procedure that a pilot shall follow before using a road, including requiring the pilot to furnish persons with flags at both ends of the road to be used; or

(3) establish other requirements considered necessary for the safe use of the roads by aircraft.

(b) A pilot who follows the ordinances adopted under Subsection (a):

(1) may land or take off in the aircraft on a county road; and

(2) is not subject to the traffic laws of this state during the landing or takeoff.

Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.
My 5 off airport landings were all caused by mechanical failures. 4 were in ultralights, so no problem, just repaired it, took off and continued on my way. The 5th was in my Challenger ll N-numbered, experimental aircraft. This was not immediately fixable, so took the wings off and hauled it home. This took several hours drawing the attention of many people including the local fire department and a deputy sheriff. All was cool, however, the deputy was required to file a report with my name, aircraft type and N-number, but also called it an "Ultralight". The next day I got a phone call from my local FAA rep. She was very interested in the inaccuracy of the report - no such thing as an N-numbered Ultralight-and whether my off airport landing was accidental or intentional. If my aircraft had been a legal ultralight, no problem. Since my aircraft had an N-number (was a real aircraft, not an FAA designated "air vehicle"), I had to fill out a report explaining that my landing was accidental and NOT intentional. My point is the FAA and local authorities are not interested in Ultralight operations as long as there is no damage to the general public or property. By the way I much prefer landing in a field as opposed to roads- no traffic, wires,mailboxes, ditches, potholes,etc.


Supreme Allied Gyro CFI
The FAA doesn't really care where you land so long as you do not run afoul of the "reckless or careless operation" prohibition; that catch-all might be enforced if you do something dumb like put it down where there's a big crowd of people on a beach, or some other substantial risk to people/things on the ground.
Local rules (county ordinances, state laws, etc.) vary widely from place to place, but everybody at every level of government excuses a true emergency. If you wish to do it routinely, then you need to comply with noise restrictions and the like, and check the local rules. Generally, rules are lax in the West and not so in the East (when I was training in helicopters, New Jersey prohibited even making an approach to any place not approved as a helipad, even if you didn't touch down!)..

It is routine for sailplane and balloon pilots to land off-field, and it is usually done without consequences. Acting neighborly will go a long way, and sometimes providing an adult beverage to the landowner helps with diplomacy.