Remembering Chris Burgess and Honoring his Legacy


Jul 24, 2011
Frederick, MD
Magni M-22
Total Flight Time
Friends -
Very sad to share the news that Chris Burgess passed away last week. Chris had retired from Gyroplane instruction several years ago and moved from Frederick, Maryland to Orange County, Florida.

I could not have asked for a better instructor - no nonsense, tough and disciplined. We trained in his tandem SnoBird for about 20 hours until I found my own gyroplane.

Best flight with Chris was a slow flight in his SnoBird over one of the taxiways trying to stay slow, low and level.
Not so great flight with him was when I chirped the tires on a fast landing in my Magni M16.
Most memorable moment in my training was when I flew alone after my first solo without him there to observe - He was HOT!

Some pictures I have:

Chris with Frank Noe, Frederick Maryland

Chris in Magni M16 N609MG over Frederick, Maryland

There were a couple of occasions I was able to get a smile out of him - I found a weak spot in his armor!
I fly now because of the training Chris provided me - Please share your memories - He was a foundational figure in our community.

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RIP Chris, had a death here in the neighborhood, had helped the folks, picked him up and hauled him back to the house several times. Passed away at Brooke Army Hospital Thursday.

Mortality, coming to grips with it is a bitch.
I'd heard he was a Huey helicopter pilot in Vietnam.
Yes, that is correct Kevin. Chris was an Army Aviator and flew a tour in Vietnam.during 1968 - 1969.

My deepest condolences for Chris' family and friends during this time of sorry and pain. He certainly will be missed by many on this forum.


This is what Paul Plack wrote for the above YouTube video.

Chris Burgess traces his love for rotorcraft back to his service in Vietnam. Even while flying Cobras for the US Army, he found himself fascinated by the early Bensen Gyrocopter ads in Popular Mechanics magazine. He became a member of the Popular Rotorcraft Association (PRA) while still in the service, anticipating the arrival of each new issue of Rotorcraft magazine.

Back home after the war with thousands of helicopter hours logged, Chris got to indulge his dream of rotary-winged flight at a personal level. He earned certificates including Commercial Helicopter and Gyroplane, Instrument Helicopter and, with the help of a PRA scholarship, Gyroplane Instructor. His first ten years of instruction took place in a Parsons tandem, essentially a stretched Bensen, powered by a McCulloch two-stroke drone engine.

These days Chris, based at Frederick Airport (KFDK) in Maryland, offers instruction in a Snobird tandem, an Experimental Amateur Built gyroplane with a Honda auto engine conversion. But once each year, he "pays back" his PRA scholarship by trailering his machine ten hours to Mentone, IN, where eager students from around the country compete to get on his instruction schedule at the annual PRA convention. Chris shared his love for the sport, and concerns for its future, with Aero-TV at PRA Mentone 2010.
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Chris was one of a kind. Also sort of unforgotten for his contributions and support for the PRA. I am really sorry to hear he is no longer with us.
This is sad. He and I had many conversations at Mentone. I last saw him at Bensen Days a few years ago. He was enjoying not having students trying to kill him. Florida was agreeing with him as well. RIP my friend.
Chris was my first SnoBird customer, and I couldn't have asked for a much nicer guy to represent my brand.
I met Chris long before the SnoBird, Chris had a MAC Bensen with his little Huey sticker on the vert stab. We became friends. Later, Chris would assemble his needy students and I'd drive out to Frederick and function as a DAR for them. I made that drive and I'd do it again just to say good by.. We should all strive to be like Chris.
I enjoyed my time with Chris Burgess a lot and will miss him.

I try to emulate his focus when I am giving gyroplane flight instruction.
Sorry to hear of his passing. He always struck me as a rock-solid no-nonsense character, and a nice guy.
I talked to Chris many times when I was building my SnoBird quite a few years ago. He was a wealth of knowledge and always willing to share it.
Chris was definitely one of the Good Guys! Anyone know how old he was?
So sorry to learn this. Always enjoyed reading his posts and learning from him. Sincere condolences to all who knew and loved him.
My first gyro flight was under Chris' tutelage at FDK probably 15 years ago or so. He was more kind and patient with me than I merited. Great memory.
I was never able to snag an instructional flight with Chris in his Snobird. He was popular and booked out at Mentone!
A super nice guy and solid PRA supporter!
RIP - another loss of the "old-guard"! classic gyro CFI.
May he RIP