Teaching Rotor Management


Gyroplane CFI
Staff member
Oct 30, 2003
Santa Maria, California
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2600+ in rotorcraft
My reason for teaching rotor management to all learners is the number of gyroplane mishaps caused by rotor mismanagement.

I watched a flight instructor hit his empennage with his rotor on takeoff through a chain of errors reminding me that rotor management is not as easy as it appears and learning is ongoing.

It is my observation that most gyroplane takeoff mishaps are either rotor mismanagement or trying to climb out at the wrong indicated air speed and hitting something.

In my opinion knowing what to do without knowing why is not the best way for most people to remember.

How exactly I teach rotor management depends on the learner and the aircraft we are flying.

In The Predator I sometimes allow the learner to experience exceeding the limits of the teeter stops and the shaking of the cyclic so they can identify it and take corrective action.

Some have frozen even though they know what to expect because it is so violent.

Usually in the learners aircraft I demonstrate how power, cyclic position and airspeed are interrelated in various ways.

There is a lot to learn when learning to fly a gyroplane and in my opinion based on my observation no one will remember all of it all the time.

It is human nature to try to find an easier, softer way and not bringing the cyclic aft far enough after pre-rotation or adding too much throttle too soon is a way to get the gyroplane to accelerate faster.

Knowing that is important is not the same as understanding why it is important and where the limits are.

I feel knowing how trouble feels has value.

I recently had a pre-rotator on a Cavalon malfunction at a busy airport with an operating control tower; only getting the rotor up to hundred sixty rpm. We could have taken off at that rpm if we were careful and took our time but it would have been closer to trouble and been divergent to what the tower was used to. I was pleased when my learner decided to abort the takeoff.

I feel the weakness in the training is an instructor not understanding how easy it is to make a mistake and believing the learner understands rotor management.


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I believe that there are few hours of ground training which are mandatory for any of my learners before they are allowed in the front seat.
We discuss
  • the principles of autorotation,
  • the few things that can mess up your gyro flying day - blade flap on takeoff, blade flap during taxi, PIO, bunt over, etc.
    • ...and how to avoid them, or recognize them and recover.
  • Prerotation technique and sequence
  • Manipulating the avionics comes last, since it does not directly affect the flying skills
I try to make these few hours as entertaining and interactive as possible, and that will not be the last time I would query my client on these subject as part of our preflight planning. The cockpit is a very expensive classroom, so the lengthy discussions and explanations should be done in advance in the more confortable hangar environment.
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