More experience with Gyropedia!


Gyroplane CFI
Oct 30, 2003
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
Learning more about Gyropedia.

Rusty started Gyropedia after six flights so it is hard to know just where to start in Gyropedia. We started at the beginning with the expected “We already covered that”.

I don’t know enough about Gyropedia to use it properly so we are doubling up on some work.

We had decided to work on lesson five so that was a part our homework.

We had already covered managing airspeed and altitude to practical test standards on the first flight with my syllabus and Rusty had done well from the beginning. The Gyropedia technique was supposed to speed up the learning process.

It was lovely weather with clear skies, mild temperatures and low winds.

We had not flown together for more than two weeks so Rusty felt before he went flying around with his eyes shut it would be good to get a feel for the machine by doing some pattern work. Rusty had been doing a lot of chair flying and wanted to check on the results. Rusty felt this was not the best time to move him to the front seat with the extra responsibilities so we put that off.

Rusty has also been working on radio calls and this was a great time to increase the challenge because the wind was zero two zero degrees at eight knots and runway two was in use.

It is difficult to imagine how much challenge is added to the radio work at the Santa Maria Public Airport when runway two is in use.

To start with even the ground instruction read backs get more complicated.

Rather that taxi via Alpha, Alpha Eight we hear and have to read back; Taxi via Mike, Alpha and hold short of runway two, new transmission; cross runway two, turn left on Alpha two and hold short of runway three zero, new transmission; cross runway three zero and taxi via Bravo two and Charlie to Charlie three. Runway three zero may also be referred to as runway one two.

With several pilots taxiing at the same time the complexity compounds the challenge.

Somehow many of the pilots on tower frequency get confused about the legs of the patterns and they feel challenged by the narrower (seventy five feet vs. a hundred fifty feet) and shorter (fifty two hundred feet vs. eight thousand feet) runway two.

To add to the confusion runway three zero is still available on request.

Combine these realities with a new controller under instruction and it was some very challenging radio work for Rusty and I felt he handled it well.

Our takeoff clearance didn’t make sense to either of us and Rusty pretended it did and read back the part he understood thinking if he left something out that was important ATC would correct him. I feel this is a mistake and just as I was about to ask ATC for clarification we lifted off and a strong wind gust hit us from the left and Rusty was not quick enough on the rudder for my comfort so; “MY AIRCRAFT”. I was distracted with the exchange of controls and did not confirm the ATC instruction after giving the controls back to Rusty as I should have.

It was a good lesson learned when the tower admonished us for not following directions. The gust had turned into a change in wind direction so with six aircraft in the pattern they switched from runway two to runway three zero sending us three miles south to circle until they got things straightened out. Rusty managed the four circles well in turbulent conditions.

We made seven stop and goes before stopping for gas and lunch.

For the second mission Rusty and I decided to go forward with our plan to explore the part of lesson five about “How to Develop the Instinct to Maintain a Constant Attitude During Power Changes.”

Over lunch we briefed extensively on Rusty flying with his eyes shut while making power changes and on our return read the book at some length making certain we understood the procedure and goals. After a preflight and weather check Rusty asked for a left turn out with a turn to the south where there is less traffic than my practice area to the north.

Gyropedia assumes the instructor know what he is doing so we had to work around my confusion.

On our second flight Rusty did well with his radio calls with some minor omissions and his airspeed and altitude control was exceptional as we made the ten mile flight to the practice area. The tasks are constantly changing during pattern work and there is little time to relax. As we few Rusty felt relaxed and enjoyed the lighter pilot work load.

We were flying at 2,200 feet mean sea level pointed toward the town of Los Alamos when Rusty closed his eyes and added power. He flew straight for a bit and then banked slightly left. Rusty could feel the change in the wind. We both felt the bank was from a gust out of the north rather than the power change so we tried it three more times in two directions with no change in airspeed or heading and a 200 foot increase in altitude each time.

We were unsure of what Rusty supposed to learn and he was uncomfortable flying without looking for traffic so we headed back to the airport for more pattern work. Rusty had been exceptional with airspeed and altitude control on the way out so it was hard to pin down what I felt the improvement was on the way back. The flight felt smoother and more relaxed despite the increase in turbulence as we entered Santa Maria’s airspace from the south.

We did another six stop and goes and called it a day a half hour before sunset.

We both felt it was a successful day of learning

We talked at length about the value of the exercise and Rusty felt he had already learned what the lesson was intended to teach. Rusty felt it was a good reminder to use all of your senses when flying and agreed to explore this kind of exercise further. I love working with Rusty!

Rusty’s next lesson is in a week.

He has been working on Gyropedia in the meantime despite his busy schedule and I need to catch up.


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Active Member
Jul 6, 2019
Total Flight Time
300+ flexwing (pendulaire) newly trained on gyrocopter ((autogire)11h)
2438m of runway ..... WOW!! I only have 400 metres and frequently as little as 300 metres


Gyroplane CFI
Oct 30, 2003
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
Another learning adventure with Rusty in The Predator.

It was time to transition Rusty to flying from the front seat a week ago and we decided if he was going to learn anything flying with his eyes shut it was best if he stayed where he was familiar.

Today’s primary mission was to transition Rusty into the front seat.

It is not a small step because he has the additional responsibility for the mixture control, transponder, radio frequencies, alternator, engine instruments and most important the brakes for steering.
Steering with a free castering nose wheel and differential braking is more intuitive that most people imagine. To turn right you press on the right pedal and if that is not enough you gently apply the right toe brake.

We spent an hour and a half getting Rusty acquainted with the front seat by going through the various check lists actually performing the actions on the ground.

There is often a lot going on when flying so it is important that he knows where the various switches, buttons and instruments are.

It was getting close to lunch time so we decided to go taxi around the non-movement part of the airport. Rusty picked it up immediately and always had a ready answer to questions like what is our engine rpm or what is our oil temperature as I would tell him to turn 90 degrees left or right. Before long he could follow the curved lines and had good situational awareness.

We spent most of lunch reviewing the tasks and preparing for our afternoon flight.

Rusty checked the weather, did a preflight inspection and filled out his radio call sheets.

Rusty performed the start up and run up perfectly following the various check lists.

The tower let us know the FAA was on the field putting some extra pressure on Rusty. He held up well making good timely radio calls and almost perfect read backs.

The pre-rotation and the takeoff required some assistance from me as Rusty became task saturated and was not sure how to respond to the slight tail wind even though we had briefed about it earlier. It was one of the many places where ground speed and air speed are very different concepts.

There is nothing like actual experience and it helped him to answer the question; how can anyone fail at such a simple and important task as rotor management?

As we headed south to our weekend practice area I could feel Rusty exploring his new freedoms provided by the front seat. He was flying like an experienced pilot and seemed relaxed and comfortable.

We asked for a radio check to see how well my freshly modified mush mouth worked and it was reported loud and clear. An open cockpit has its challenges with wind noise and on our last flight the tower had requested; “get that radio fixed before you do any more pattern work.” I still have some more things to experiment but this was a major hurdle. Somehow Rusty in the back seat is at exactly the wrong height so the wind blows into his microphone. He probably would have been fine in the front seat as it works fine for me there with a boom microphone. Most clients move to the front seat before they start making radio calls.

The front to back cyclic ratio is better in the front seat because there is more room so it took Rusty a while to get the hang of the lighter control forces. We did some ground reference maneuvers and recognition and recovery from low airspeed and a high rate of descent.

We headed back to the airport and his initial call and read back were nearly perfect and every call after that was perfect.

The wind was picking up and we were landing with a tail wind. The tower does not use runway 12 until we have a seven knot tail wind. The gusts were picking up and because the cyclic forces are lighter in the front seat Rusty began to over control, flared a little high and we did a go around.

A go around is a required maneuver in the practical test standards so it was nice to have a real reason to go around rather than pretending.

Our second attempt went better with a nice landing.

As we approached runway three zero at about six hundred feet above the ground we were hit with a fifteen knot wind shear that had Rusty feeling like the winds were too strong for his current level of skill. We discussed it briefly and I reminded him that down drafts don’t go all the way to the ground. Rusty was still not comfortable and he accepted my offer demonstrate a landing with a tail wind.

I was lucky and it was a very nice landing. I had to remind Rusty to use the brakes to steer because the tail wind made our rudder completely ineffective. It seems I have to go through this at least once with every primary student on their transition to the front seat.

In our debrief we discussed what to do when you are not comfortable with the wind direction. Air Traffic is there to help and asking them for a different runway is best for everyone involved. Part of our pre-flight weather brief is to get the conditions at other local airports so we can go somewhere with more favorable conditions.

We were going to make one more short flight before the sun set when Rusty knocked off one of his ear cups on his helmet. I for one have a very hard time with these and Rusty was not able to manage to install the ear cup either, there wasn’t time to go back to the hangar for my spare helmet so we called it a day.

I brought the helmet home because my wife is much more patient than I am with the ear cups. She managed to install four ear cups on two helmets in a half hour. I love Ed and her willingness to help.

I will see Rusty again in three weeks and we are working at getting more integrated with Gyropedia with the help of Phil Harwood. We hope to be doing some more eyes shut flying this time trying turns, descents and power changes based on sound. Our primary goal will be working up to engine at idle accurate landings.

At this time we are landing at 1,600 engine rpm that gives us a descent rate of around 500 feet per minute and spreads out the landing tasks.


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