They almost missed the flight of a lifetime.

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
15,912
Location
Nipomo,California
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Givens Predator
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2400+ in rotorcraft
Greg and Doug were flying cross country in a Lycoming powered gyroplane and stopped by my hangar Thursday because it was pouring rain at Whitman; their short term destination airport where they were planning on leaving the aircraft.

They had been nursing an overheating problem on their flight.

As they flew south the air temperature increased exacerbating the temperature challenge.

Before they started on their adventure they had a trusted mechanic install two new magnetos that were alleged to be timed accurately.

Despite their challenges Doug was very generous and encouraged me to fly the aircraft and I saw how sensitive it was to high cylinder head temperatures if you left the power in too long and I felt the engine was not performing well. I could not find the VSI on the EFIS and Greg told me she was only climbing out at about 650 feet per minute.

I loved the way the Sport Copter II flew and was overwhelmed by the Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS) AKA glass panel. I thought Greg was going to fly but he turned the controls over to me. I flew the pattern entirely by sight picture being totally confused by the EFIS. The spindle head changed the feel of the cyclic and it took some learning to fly her smoothly. She is big, smooth and elegant.

To my surprise the landing was as nice as could be with the generous suspension soaking up any ineptitude.

At dinner we discussed the options. Greg and Doug had already used up all their weather days and needed to get back home for work on Saturday.

Doug was leaning toward shipping the gyroplane to Florida instead of taking the flight of a lifetime and things were looking dark to me.

This thought haunted me throughout the night.

On my way to pick them up at the Radisson at the Santa Maria airport Friday I stopped by to see my friends at Coastal Valley Aviation and Rick agreed to find the time to check the timing that morning. Friday is always a busy day for them. They are aviation enthusiasts on a high level and understood the challenges of an adventure well.

I reminded Doug that he would feel better if he found out what the trouble was rather than waiting for it to get back to Florida and he approved the added expense.

It turned out the timing on one magneto was sixteen degrees advanced (41 degrees before top dead center) and the other was also advanced, just not as far.

After the timing was set they took a couple of laps around the pattern and she was climbing out at better than 1,300 feet per minute with temperatures and pressures in the green and steady.

When they returned they were both so excited they began planning their flight across the country. They will leave the Sport Copter II in the Breese Aircraft Hangar till they can get back and fly her back to Florida and then Michigan.

Lessons learned once again:

Even a good mechanic makes mistakes.

Don’t give up on an adventure just because things appear to be getting dark. It will actually make for a better story if there are challenges.

Never hurry aviation.

If there is a problem land and fix it rather than pressing on.

Helping friends achieve their dreams is food for my spirit. I loved it that I was able to have a positive effect on a friend’s aviation adventure.

It is raining now and I still feel like I am basking in the sunshine as I write about our adventure.
 

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SportCopter

Active Member
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Scappoose
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Vance, we appreciate your kind assistance to Doug and Greg, and thank you for your nice comments about the SCII. We agree that it is "big, smooth, and elegant." Try not to put too many hours on it before they return! :)
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
15,912
Location
Nipomo,California
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Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
Vance, we appreciate your kind assistance to Doug and Greg, and thank you for your nice comments about the SCII. We agree that it is "big, smooth, and elegant." Try not to put too many hours on it before they return! :)
I was please to help them Jim: Greg is a good friend and I gave Doug and his wife their first gyroplane flight years ago.

I would help and have helped any transient pilot that was having challenges including fixed wing and weight shift.

I have been helped many times at distant airports.

I would not fly the Sport Copter II without transition training and two laps around the pattern is not enough for a slow learner like me.

Wayne (a friend of mine with a Sport Copter II out of Van Nuys) may come up for a check out before they launch on their cross country or they may stop by Whitman on their way.

I would need to spend a lot of time with the Electronic Flight Instrument System before it made sense to me.

Greg had more confidence in me than I do and simply gave me the controls with zero preparation. I hunted in the cross wind turn and settled down quickly.

I particularly liked the suspension. You have done well because it is not unstable on the ground and it made my landing appear to be a greaser.

The spindle head was easier than I expected.

The rudder control was exceptional and unobtrusive.

I stand my my opinion that the Sport Copter II is the nicest side by side gyroplane out there and now I have flying experience to support that opinion.

I like them all, I just like the Sport Copter II best.
 
Last edited:

Mike G

Junior Member
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Jun 16, 2005
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1,498
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Lillebonne France
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Owned Magni M16 now ELA 07
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Vance, thank you for an interesting report, we don't get much first hand experience feedback about SportCopters. What do you mean by "The spindle head changed the feel of the cyclic " is there something new about this head?
Mike G
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
15,912
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
Vance, thank you for an interesting report, we don't get much first hand experience feedback about SportCopters. What do you mean by "The spindle head changed the feel of the cyclic " is there something new about this head?
Mike G
The Sport Copter II appears to me to have a spindle head as opposed to an offset gimbal.

This is not anything new.

Bensen used a spindle head before going to an offset gimbal.

It appears to me based on my somewhat limited experience that the spindle head changes the feel of the cyclic in response to rotor loading.

I have instructed in several spindle head RAFs (Sport Copter head and blades) and enjoy the light cyclic. I found that clients might make large cyclic inputs without realizing it.

An offset gimbal gives more feedback with over controlling and I needed to stress minimum control inputs with the spindle head.

Most gyroplanes today use an offset gimbal with a similar offset to what Bensen went to.

Different does not make it better or worse.

I feel it is a matter of taste and comfort with what you are used to.

Combining my unfamiliarity with the electronic flight instrument system with the spindle head, the constant speed prop and the overheating challenges made for a steep learning curve.

I was not used to seeing 2,800 engine rpm on climb out.

The Predator climbs out at around 2,450 with her fixed pitch propeller.

I was glad to have Greg on board although he did not have to intervene.

I did ask him a lot of questions about what the EFIS was saying.

I found the Sport Copter II a delight to fly with light, progressive flight controls and fabulous suspension.

As heavy as the Sport Copter II is I doubt that an offset gimbal would work well.

At 1,400 pounds maximum takeoff weight The Predator at times has a cyclic that is heavier than I would like.

It is not unusual for me in an airshow at 1,100 pounds to use both hands for some maneuvers
 

SportCopter

Active Member
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140
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Scappoose
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Vortex M912, SportCopterII, Vortex 582
I stand my my opinion that the Sport Copter II is the nicest side by side gyroplane out there and now I have flying experience to support that opinion.
Thank you very much for your compliment, Vance.

The SCII was actually designed for the military and LE from a long list of requirements. For example, it has the headroom for helmeted pilots, and the suspension is very capable. Our upcoming M2 will incorporate features and technology even more advanced than the SCII, yet at an LSA price-point. And, yes, it's strong enough to loop and roll. LOL

Jim
 

Mike G

Junior Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2005
Messages
1,498
Location
Lillebonne France
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Owned Magni M16 now ELA 07
Total Flight Time
550FW + 500 gyro
Vance thank you for your informative reply.
Mike G
 

PW_Plack

Active Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
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8,539
Location
West Valley City, Utah, USA
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Sport Copter Vortex 582
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FW: 200 Gyro: 51
I flew in Jim's original red, Subaru-powered SCII, and he demonstrated a drop-in landing that made me hold my breath. That suspension is incredible.
 
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