new RAF owner's experience pre-/post-Boyer HS

Kolibri

FW and Gyros
Hello, I'm a new SP Gyro add-on pilot to my PP-ASEL, and new to this forum (although I've read 100+ threads here, mainly on the RAF HS issue).

I'd first trained in a Calidus over 11 hours and got a PIC signoff. The next summer I bought a stock RAF with carbed 2.2, brokered by Dofin Fritts. The difference in the two aircraft was significant, and I never felt comfortable in the stock RAF. It felt extremely pitch sensitive (like a swinging bucket under the rotor), and had we flown with the doors on I'd have certainly noticed the yaw instability as well. After some 11 hours with Dofin at Brewton (not my idea of a pleasant instructor, though his wife hosts a quality guest room), I passed my PTS for a Sport gyro rating, though I honestly was not much enjoying my first gyro and did not feel hugely confident in it.

I was actually questioning my purchase decision after I discovered the controversy about HS vs. no HS on RAFs. As most of you all know, Dofin is vehemently against all h-stabs. (He actually goes so far as to claim that the FAA Gyro Handbook incorrectly ascribes center of gravity vs. drag when explaining the hinge point of PPOs. He kindly "corrected" my copy with his marginalia while muttering that the CLT guys had gotten to the FAA author.)

So, I spent some 20 hours researching an issue my renowned gyro CFI never warned me about. The weight of forum evidence and anecdotal accounts led me to purchase a Boyer Ultimate HS without Dofin's knowledge or blessing. What clinched the purchase was Ron Menzie's Evaluation of the Horizontal Stabilizer for the RAF2000:


During my evaluation flight I did not encounter any negative effects of the horizontal stabilizer, even in steep climbs and steep turns. I first flew the RAF with the stabilizer, then flew my RAF without a stabilizer, paying particular attention to the nose up and down motion. While it's natural for an experienced pilot to adjust to this motion, you can't expect this from the student.

With so much experience, it's very easy for instructors to instinctively compensate with minor adjustments that are beyond a students level of skill. Using a horizontal stabilizer will enable students to achieve good, safe, flying skills with less frustration and fewer hours of training. I see no reason for it to take 25 hours of training to fly a gyroplane. Over the last twenty ive years, I've trained several hundred students in fewer hours using Benson style gyros with no enclosures. Instability in the rotor craft has a direct impact on the students confidence that he or she will be able to successfully learn to fly the gyroplane.
Dofin trailered my RAF to me out West, and we further trained post-PTS 3.5 hours in it while stock. He noticed the box containing the Boyer HS, and to his credit took it pretty well, even helping my A&P and me install it. He warned me that climb performance would suffer, which it did, but the HS dramatically stabilized the airframe and I was instantly flying my RAF better. Dofin noticed this, but was reluctant to praise the new HS. I then soloed for the first time, with a 40lb. block of concrete on the passenger seat. The Boyer HS added greatly to my confidence and comfort of flying. By now, I've now more time with the HS, and my flying improvement is profound.

If my RAF always had a Boyer HS, I could have transitioned into it in probably about half the time (i.e., 5-6 hours vs. 15) -- all the while avoiding Dofin's snide comment of "[I thought you] would pick up flying the gyroplane quicker". Little wonder that some pilots training in a stock RAF for a gyro add-on need 20+ hours, not knowing how much easier the RAF is to fly with a Boyer HS because a stabless CFI never explained so.

Takeoffs (formerly the trickiest part for me) are much more docile. I don't find pattern rate-of-descent much affected. Landings don't require any "2-part flare" -- rather, just round out past the numbers and flare/touchdown as normal, just as Ron Menzie described. Flying with the doors on is now no-yaw hassle, although I did tape on a yaw string to help me fine-tune coordination. I've landed in a ~15kt. x-wind with no trouble.

Flying my first solo x-country trip, I easily had the RAF to an 80mph cruise with the Boyer HS on. If the HS does reduce cruise speed somewhat that's a fair tradeoff for the added pitch and yaw stability. While I could remove the HS just to remind myself of how a stock RAF felt, I'm really not in the mood to relive that. I live near hills and mountains in the West, and sudden downdrafts are common out here.

The build quality of the Boyer HS should be a bit improved for its $1250 price. (My painter remarked that it will take more filling and sanding than he expected to make it look nice.) The installation instructions could be better written, and a drilling template should be included. The bolts seem mere hardware store parts. But, overall, I'm glad I added it to my RAF, and agree with Larry Boyer that it is a must for newbie RAF pilots. (Just my unpaid honest opinion.)

It is my firm opinion that any newbie gyro pilot should not be handed a stock RAF 2000. The learning curve is much steeper than necessary, and without an HS the newbie is assuming increased risk of a PPO during an unexpected downdraft. I also believe it irresponsible for any gyro CFI to promote a stock RAF 2000 to student pilots, regardless of his own personal opinion of stabbed RAFs. All the newer gyros have significant horizontal stabilizers (most with much winglet surface area, too), and there's a damn good reason for that. Dofin Fritts doesn't have to like stabs, but he should cease and desist discouraging students from them.

I would urge the South African RAF company an about-face on this issue, as there are far more compelling reasons for a stabbed RAF than not. On the rafpilot forum, 12:13 believe in adding an HS, and that's probably the reason why RAF fatalities have been reduced the past 10 years.

It'd be preferable that I had a CLT machine, but I will fly carefully in my Boyer stabbed RAF and consider most of the PPO worry behind me.

I appreciate the many excellent posts many of you have made about the HS on RAFs, in particular Ellsworth, Beaty, Aussie Paul, etc.

Regards,

Kolibri
 
Last edited:

C. Beaty

Gold Supporter
The FAA grounded Dofin for a year after two of his recently soloed students bored smoking holes within a short period and permanently revoked his examiner privileges.

Ostensibly for paperwork violations; equivalent to sending Al Capone to Alcatraz for tax evasion. Go with what you can prove.
 
Last edited:

Kolibri

FW and Gyros
Chuck, I became aware of that only after I'd already trained in the unstabbed RAF he sold me.

I subsequently asked him about some of those student deaths, and his explanation was generally that they were low time gyro pilots, most of whom flying without an add-on.

I've researched the 15 fatal RAF accidents in the USA, and discuss the apparent high 40% proportion of Dofin's students. In the spirit of truth, and not to defame the man, I'd like to understand why.

I'm beginning to question my particular machine, and possibly my Brewton training.

Nice way for a CFI/broker to treat a newbie!
http://www.rotaryforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=41893

RAF 2000 Goodyear redrive belt failure in flight
http://www.rotaryforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=41898

According to the builder's W&B Report, I have a CLT RAF 2000!?
http://www.rotaryforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=41906

Thanks for any helpful facts and commentary you all can provide!

Regards,
Kolibri
 

Attachments

Last edited:

willisbr

New member
That list makes me sick because I see tons of poor pilot decisions that resulted in loss of life. I sure hope that you break out your thick ass RAF manual and see that every single one of those accidents may have been prevented had precautions took place. No full owner under 200 rotor rpm, no pushing over to 0g, etc. I don't think I could ever be a gyro cfi because I trust no one. You just can't prevent stupid.
 

Kolibri

FW and Gyros
I share your revulsion about it, too. I wouldn't become a gyroCFI, either, for the same reasons.

I'm doing what I can to always self-educate as pilot, especially with a new add-on to gyros. I've only ~30 hours in my RAF, with 10 hours in a Calidus before that. I've nearly 500 hours in fixed wing and gliders.

I carefully monitor my RRPM during the takeoff roll, I don't zoom climb, or do other blatantly stupid things up there. I yesterday survived my first potentially disastrous equipment failure.

However, I have to wonder what-if-any is the correlation of 33+% of RAF pilot deaths to having been Dofin's students. I need to know for myself as one of his students, who is now trying to discern the quality of my training in Brewton and if I should at once bolster such with another CFI.

Regards,
Kolibri
 
Last edited:

willisbr

New member
Understood. In that case, go with your judgment and get additional training from another CFI. Maybe the way forward is to get further instruction. In the end though, if you fly the RAF within the parameters explained in the manual and understand The principles of rotorcraft and aerodynamics, you can only build from that to become a more efficient and safe pilot. It sounds like you are already making good decisions regarding your own safety. In the end, your safety is in your own hands. So keep it up.
 
Last edited:

PW_Plack

Platinum Member
I have to wonder what-if-any is the correlation of 33+% of RAF pilot deaths to having been Dofin's students....
You keep throwing out those figures as if they're statistically relevant.

It's very likely the guy had at least 33% of the RAF instruction market over a period of years. The rate you need is not his fatalities divided by total RAF fatalities, but his fatalities divided by his total students trained, then compare that rate with other CFIs.

If there were 720 students trained, he trained 33% of them, and he had 33% of 12 fatal accidents, that's a pretty low rate. And that might not be too far off the total.

You're chasing a non-isssue. At least statistically.
 

Kolibri

FW and Gyros
In the end though, if you fly the RAF within the parameters explained in the manual and understand The principles of rotorcraft and aerodynamics, you can only build from that to become a more efficient and safe pilot. It sounds like you are already making good decisions regarding your own safety. In the end, your safety is in your own hands. So keep it up.
Thanks, Brian. I agree that my safety is in my own hands, which explains the ardor of my posts regarding my training. For example, speaking of learning the "principles of rotorcraft and aerodynamics" whom do I believe regarding H-stabs and PPOs:

FAA Gyroplane H-8083-21, page 21-3 (thrust line over center of gravity, see attachment)

or

Dofin Fritts, my second gyro CFI, who altered the FAA's language on my page to "center of drag"?



______
It's very likely the guy had at least 33% of the RAF instruction market over a period of years. The rate you need is not his fatalities divided by total RAF fatalities, but his fatalities divided by his total students trained, then compare that rate with other CFIs.
OK, fine. Let's get that data, finally.

Dofin is one of, what?, a half-dozen high-time gyro CFIs with hundreds of students. The other 5 or so other such CFIs are well known (Duane Hunn, Jim Logan, Jim Mayfield, Ron Menzie, etc.), so let's ask them for an estimate of how many gyro students they've had, and of them how many fatalities. (This should have been done years ago. It's 2014 and folks here have been decrying RAF fatalities for over a decade. If incomplete/poor training is an issue, we should know why and whom by now. So far, the only CFI I've consistently seen here related to student crashes has been Dofin, and I want to learn if he's been fairly or unfairly singled out.)



You're chasing a non-isssue. At least statistically.
Yes, well, at least I'm "chasing" it at all, so perhaps you'll forgive my imperfect start while I hone the question.

Regards,
Kolibri
 

Attachments

Last edited:

fara

AR-1 gyro manufacturer
Hi:
I am not trying to start anything but its comical to look at just center of gravity at CLT. Aircraft are a system and the whole integration is taken into account to determine the final effect in regards with stability and many other "non-prescriptive" desired characteristics. It is quite possible to get into a PIO in a CLT aircraft and have a tragedy as well.

Simplistic prescriptive formulae always have shortcomings. The proper solutions whether they be horizontal stabs or CLT or both or stability assist systems are proven through rigorous precise testing and an operating limitations envelope conservatively developed and expected to be followed in real end user use.

What you are looking for is stability. Not CLT or Horizontal stabs. Those two are specific solutions employed to gain stability. There could be other solutions as well. I have seen a few videos of gyroplanes simply bunting over and none so far have been at the static case of low airspeed from a zoom climb. In all of them the gyroplane had been moving at a good click. We have to think about what happened there then because the simplistic case is certainly not what happened.

I would hate to be in your shoes flying a machine I seriously question, seriously questioning your training and having low hours. I hope you can get to the point where you have done confidence in both the machine and the training. They both go hand in hand to produce safety.
 

MadMuz

New member
Kolibri, maybe you could put some pics of your machine up.... maybe RAF owners on here can look and maybe advise you of anything else you might think of doing to boost safety?
Just an idea?
 

Kolibri

FW and Gyros
I really think you should have not gotten an RAF. Really really.
Brian, why not?

____
fara, I agree that stability is the goal (HauptZiel in German), and I've already done what I immediately could with the Boyer HS. I think it got me past any critical point, but after flying it more I will consider a dropped keel mod though I don't relish having to thus swap motors for a 2.5. Just wanted to buy a machine that was "fun and easy to fly" as advertised. After the Calidus, an unstabbed RAF is not "easy" and thus not "fun". (The Boyer HS has gotten me 80% there for that, though. Thanks Larry!)

fara, please post some youtube links regarding PPOs not during a zoom climb. I scoured the internet months ago for such, to no avail.


I would hate to be in your shoes flying a machine I seriously question, seriously questioning your training and having low hours. I hope you can get to the point where you have done confidence in both the machine and the training. They both go hand in hand to produce safety.
Thanks for that; I agree. I'll be replacing many parts my RAF CFI explicitly recommended "that these parts do not need to be changed out at this time". He may "replace Drive belt, prerotator/gimble bearings at 400 hours, and redrive bearings at 600 hours according to what I find at each inspection period." but that no longer satisfies me after a 90 hour redrive belt from 2008 failed on me this past weekend.

All belts and hoses will be R&R, and then the bearings. Not trusting anything any more.

____
Brent, thanks for the link; saw that already, and it's what convinced me to go with a Boyer HS. I like Menzie's open-minded approach to H-stabs, and that he trains his students with them. That really is the only fair way to handle the HS "controversy".

MadMuz, good idea, thanks. I'm on my little netbook with insufficient RAM to crunch the photos while doing other things, so, another time.

Regards,
Kolibri
 
Last edited:

Kolibri

FW and Gyros
Tim, here is Dark Green; hope it's better on your screen.

schipperke, glad you found Menzie. I hear that he strongly recommends H-stabs these days. I guess I appreciate my HS more since I trained without it for 15 hours.

Regards,
Kolibri
 

Timchick

Tim Chick
Thanks. That's much better. I don't own an RAF and probably never will but if I did I would make sure it had a good stab and I would also do the drop keel mod.
 
Hi Kolibri,
About HS, for us in Quebec, in Canada, I think we only do not have enought good weather conditions to develop and maintain proficiency to fly a RAF without an HS. About 10 years ago, I've seen my CFI Michel Valliere killing himself on his RAF without an HS. I'm a visual witness of what happened. I've seen about only 3 cycles of nose up/nose down increasing in amplitude and it were enought. He cutted the power but it was just too late... The blade going rear hit the rudder and explose in hundreads of parts leaving the inertia of the front blade pulling the whole machine in a flying rolling over and falling on the ground like a rock. In my mind I think I could ear him screaming. I still. At the touchsown it exploded in a ball of fire like on war movies. We went to the firing wreckage and when the fire almost extinguished we could get closer and see him in his RAF, upside down. I had to catch his whife running for him, I told her, no Carol, it is not a good idea. It is time now to call your kids. Now, when I go to restaurent and see a menu with picture roasted ribs, I see something else...

Beleave it or not, I'm now a RAF owner and I putted an HS. I being trained this summer by James Nadig. He are a wonderful guy. Not because he train me with an HS but because he are a generous trainer and so agile. He answer all my qustions without any doubts. He also being trained by Dofin. Here in Quebec, I flew with Magny and DTA and I feel thoses a lot easier to fly than a RAF but I really enjoyed to learn to fly a RAF with James. Flying a RAF it is just different. Next spring I will get to fly again with James before I'll go by myself. But after I will fly solo with my RAF for many tents of hours, I expect to fly with Jim Logan who are also very friendly, and this, just to understand a littel more about all of that. I'm sure it will help.
 

Kolibri

FW and Gyros
Thanks for the info, Rene.
Glad you're training with an HS, and enjoying your RAF!

Regards,
Kolibri
 
Top