Report on Spinning on the Wind by Shirley Jennings


Gold Supporter
Oct 30, 2003
Avondale, Arizona
Aero SP AT-4 (Gobosh 700X), TAG Titanium Explorer
A very well spent $4.00 for the Kindle edition. I believe it compares very favorably with A Dream of Flight by Igor Bensen.

Although the early portions of the book seem to indicate a big picture look at early gyroplane development in the UK, it quickly settles down to describe, in some detail, the life and endeavors of a particular gyronaut; Ernie Brooks. Mr. Brooks was unknown to me by name, but I have known of his spiritual kin for many decades. Chuck Vanek, Ernie Boyette, Igor Bensen, Ken Brock, Dennis Fetters, Don Farrington, The Haseloh brothers, David and Jay Groen, Ray Umbaugh, Denis Schoemaker, etc. All have tried, with varying degrees of success, to build on their dream of autorotative flight.

Her descriptions of building gyros in the 60's was spot on. I remember building many sets of wooden rotor blades in the late 60's. I didn't know any better, so I liked the way they flew. The gentlest of pats would make them start to turn. The smell of Resorcinol glue still evokes fond memories.

I won't steal more of Shirley's thunder by describing her work more fully. It is quite well written as homage to a group of folks who shared a love of gyroplanes in the days when you rolled your own or went without.

I enjoyed the book. You can get your copy here: on the Wind: A Gyronaut’s Tale eBook : Jennings, Shirley:Kindle Store

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Looks interesting I'll give it a read.
One line in the intro on Amazon that caught my attention, that probably applies to far more in life than just gyroplanes
"It’s a fine line between rapture and tragedy"
Looks interesting I'll give it a read.
One line in the intro on Amazon that caught my attention, that probably applies to far more in life than just gyroplanes
"It’s a fine line between rapture and tragedy"
I experienced something like that the first time I blew through 1000ft. on Greg's fuel injected Hirth powered Dominator,
It was more like a fine line between abject terror and exhilaration though!
If you navigate don't forget to explore the drop downs on the right side of most pages labeled "categories."

Included therein are several delightful vignettes. The author paints word pictures that bring the short memoirs to life.

Worth a read for the entertainment and an insight into the author's persona.

Warning: you may not agree with all the statements on aerodynamics in her book or on her web site, but she appears willing to incorporate new knowledge as she learns it. She does not claim to be a guru, but rather an enthusiast willing to share her good fortune using words and concepts to the best of her ability.

Thanks Jim (blush)

I’m not an academic by any means – I’m actually a most unlikely pilot! – but I’ve survived. I’ve survived because of the way I was taught, and the knowledge it gave me by learning that particular way.

It’s sad to see this same knowledge being casually dismissed as no longer valid in a modern world, while the wreckage keeps piling up. Closed minds dismiss the opinions of respected veterans like Marion Springer, Chris Burgess, Mike Boyette, Doug Riley, and the highly experienced muster pilots like Birdy and Wolfy, while the wreckage keeps piling up.

To read that a CFI didn’t understand what Leigh was saying about using the wind to work a slow rotor, pretty much sums up the state of training today (the same CFI who told me I shouldn’t be flying a 29 year old gyroplane!). It’s actually pretty damning.

We’re not saying exclusively go back to old ways, just incorporate them to give students the best of both worlds and make sure they have EVERY piece of the puzzle – be it gadgetry or old school instincts. I don’t understand the resistance to giving them the best possible chance to survive. So it may take a bit longer: it’s heck of a lot quicker and cheaper than rebuilding a trashed machine and we’re a long time dead.

I’ve been hitting my head against this particular wall for over two decades (hence Short Hops) – it’s just as frustrating as Mike feels with his GWS.

Anyway, I’m off to France to fly my 29 year old gyroplane...
(Hi Fred!)
I'll also say that Shirley's book, short hops, is a great gyro read. thoroughly enjoyed it and wish I had it when I was teaching myself how to fly the Bensen B8M.

I'm working on Norman's book right now. I must say that the way the book is written, I feel like I am on the trip with him.
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I have sold out of the last of the 10 books of First Gyro - Norman's epic gyro-journey around the globe X 1.5! ....I got a bulk shipment to save some postage!
Books are available from the website along with the wonderful photos linked to each chapter!

Norman wrote of his gyro adventures very well - I was honored to have spent some great social time with him en-route to Oshkosh when he stopped in at Mark Airey's place ,Propwash, Justin TX - where we were working on TAG rotor mods and again at Mentone - wonderful evenings laughing at his funny tales and stories!
Most special was that Mark Airey in backseat & I in my TAG gave Norman & Roxy an escort for the first 20 minutes of his last-ever flight from Mentone to Oshkosh where Roxy was pickled and put on display at the museum.
"Short Hops" on Shirley's website should be required reading for students.
I tried to find the book, as I felt "Spinning on the Wind" left me sad.
But she has now incorporated it to her website for all to freely read.
And she does weave a nice tapestry of words (can one write that?).