My flight review 10/17/22


Gyroplane CFI
Staff member
Oct 30, 2003
Santa Maria, California
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2600+ in rotorcraft
Every two years the FAA wants to know I haven’t picked up bad habits since I earned my Commercial Pilot, Rotorcraft-Gyroplane certificate.

For most a flight review is a minimum of an hour of ground and an hour flight with a flight instructor. Because I am a flight instructor and regularly teach I may skip the ground.

I called up my friend Mike Trudell who teaches at Orbich Helicopters out of the CMA (Camarillo Airport, Camarillo, California) in a Magni M16; a two place open tandem gyroplane.

I have the greatest respect for Mike as a flight instructor and have found our many discussions helpful. I felt a flight review was an opportunity for me to learn about both flying and instructing.

We discussed taking the flight review in my training aircraft (The Predator). He is one of the CFIs (certificated flight instructors) I use for proficiency check rides so I wanted to get a better feel for how the Magni M16 flies compared to The Predator and Mike agreed to do the training in his Magni M16.

Mike sent me an email with some information that I would need to operate the M16 for the flight review. As I perused the information I noted that at 242 pounds I was too heavy for the front seat so I gave Mike a call and he said I could fly her from the back seat if I could fit in it as it was designed for smallish, young Italians.

Saturday I had contacted Mike about multiple VIP temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) that had not yet been published because Vice President Harris was visiting Los Angles. Once they were published I found all the TFRs were well south of Camarillo.

Camarillo is a lovely 123 mile drive down California Highway 101 and usually takes around two hours. My appointment was for 10:00 and it is not unusual to have traffic jams near the towns of Santa Barbara and Ventura during the rush hours so I left my home in the dark at 5:30 and pulled up in front of the Orbic Helicopter hangar at 7:40. I felt it was a good start with a successful strategy and took a nap in my car.

At 9:30 I entered the Orbich hangar and filled out some paperwork for a very charming young woman named Sheila (a commercial helicopter pilot) and soon sat down with Mike.

I fly and teach out of the Santa Maria Public Airport (SMX) which has less than a 100 operations per day and very simple airspace around it. CMA has an average of 297 operations per day and complex airspace all around it. I brought a current Los Angles sectional chart and Mike went over the recent changes and the complex airspace around the Los Angeles metropolitan area and various chart symbols.

We went over the various kinds of flight restrictions with stadium flight restrictions in particular. Mike knows I use paper charts rather than an electronic flight bag and wanted to know how I find out about TFRs and NOTAMS (Notice to air missions).

I call flight services. SMX is a Cal Fire base and we often have fire TFRs that can pop up very quickly and we frequently have NOTAMs about UAS (unmanned aerial systems).

Time was slipping away so Mike uncovered the Magni and I did have to work hard to get in the back seat without scuffing up his paint job, pulling on the wrong thing or breaking the windscreen. I suspect it was comedic to watch.

We rolled the Magni outside and I carefully went through the preflight inspection. Mike is a skilled mechanic and his aircraft is immaculate. It still took me close to an hour to preflight her as I was unfamiliar with how to see some the areas that need to be inspected and spent a lot of time on my knees.

We grabbed a quick lunch so I could focus on the flight.

Camarillo Tower works with Mike and allows him to make takeoffs and landing on taxiway Foxtrot and make a slough departure at or below 500 feet mean sea level (airport elevation is surveyed at 76.8 feet msl).

The pre-rotation was simple and the Magni was off quickly in what I felt was an untidy takeoff. Mike’s head blocked the yaw string and I found the combination airspeed indicator altimeter confusing so I quickly exceeded 500 feet and got a little slow with a left yaw. Mike has a very nice instructional style where he very politely and gently asked me to increase speed, reduce altitude and give her a little right pedal as I searched for the slough. In my phraseology a slough is a swamp and in the local parlance an irrigation ditch is called a slough. Once we got that straightened out I made a right turn and once past the river climbed to 1,500 feet. We made left and right steep turns at thirty degree bank Mike reminded me that for a commercial gyroplane pilot the bank standard for a steep turn is 40 degrees so I tightened her up a bit. I felt the Magni preferred the steeper bank and despite some turbulence off the hills I found it easy to manage airspeed and altitude.

We did some slow flight and recovery from low airspeed and a high rate of descent at full power and cruse power before heading off to SZP (Santa Paula) for some pattern work.

I found the Magni very easy to fly and except for one somewhat flat landing all my landings and takeoffs at Santa Paula were acceptable as was my air work. I tried to be a recalcitrant learner and it seemed difficult to fly her noticeably badly.

After a de-brief Mike filled out my log book and I am good for another twenty four months.

I feel I can better transition my clients into the Magni M16 and found her a delight to fly.

I like Mikes instructional style and hope to enhance mine with what I learned.

The 405 was badly snarled because of Vice President Harris and that seemed to restrict traffic to California Highway 101 and kept it from getting slow so I had a lovely drive home watching the shadows dance across the hills as the sun set.


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Since the M16 is the ONLY gyro I've flown I have nothing to which I can compare. (I have ridden in the M24!) All I can say is I thoroughly enjoyed training in it and really enjoy flying it every chance I get. Sadly, Minnesota winters don't make it the ideal choice if you can only own one.