Ultralight Gyroplane Limitations

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I plan to get Sport Pilot level training. What I buy from there remains to be seen. Maybe a powered paraglider if I can't afford a numbered gyro. Heretical I know, but they're much cheaper if you don't mind waiting for the wind to stop blowing.
 

Jazzenjohn

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There are a vast number of options between a Nano and a used N numbered gyro both in available quantity and in price. Any fat ultralight can be rebuilt and subsequently N numbered. There are many N numbered single place gyros for less than $40,000. In any case, allow for the cost of training in the budget. Although it is impossible to document the amount of money and lives saved by training, there are many examples of people who decided to forego training and it cost them dearly.
 

Tyger

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I have no experience flying a Nano, but I wonder how well primary training to Sport Pilot in, say, a Cavalon would actually prepare one to fly a Nano.
Perhaps Vance or Ultracruiser can weigh in on that.
 

PW_Plack

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The GyroBee in particular seems to have a very respectable safety record.
I've yet to see a GyroBee in person that made the Part 103 weight limit. The lightest one I've seen fly weighed about 320 pounds. Since the discontinuation of the Rotax 447 and the end of available lightweight blades, I'm not sure how you'd build one that would both make weight and have safe performance margins.

I suspect lots of gyros that start out to be "ultralights" gain weight as frills are added over time. There was a GyroBee for sale here a couple years ago which weighed over 500 pounds, despite using a relatively light engine.
 

skyguynca

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I've yet to see a GyroBee in person that made the Part 103 weight limit. The lightest one I've seen fly weighed about 320 pounds. Since the discontinuation of the Rotax 447 and the end of available lightweight blades, I'm not sure how you'd build one that would both make weight and have safe performance margins.

I suspect lots of gyros that start out to be "ultralights" gain weight as frills are added over time. There was a GyroBee for sale here a couple years ago which weighed over 500 pounds, despite using a relatively light engine.
Actually my Gyrobee did. Built and flown many years ago. If you pay attention to detail and go strictly by the plans you can do it. Not alot of margin to work with but you can.

Now that Hornet UL gyro, never made it, just about all of them were around 300lbs finished.

I did another one by Hollman, the Honeybee. It will make UL and has a prerotor. You have to pretty much be a machinist to pull it off. It will make UL too.

Gyro Jake, JazzenJohn and ScottEssex have made some really innovated designs that also make UL with more than 40hp, still two strokes but with 50hp.
 

Jazzenjohn

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I find it impossible to believe a gyrobee could weigh 500 pounds. How the hell did they add that much weight? Suburu engine, Skywheels, plus a huge lead acid battery?
 

ultracruiser41

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I have no experience flying a Nano, but I wonder how well primary training to Sport Pilot in, say, a Cavalon would actually prepare one to fly a Nano.
Perhaps Vance or Ultracruiser can weigh in on that.
The Cavalon is a different beast than a Nano. I believe the closest gyro to the ‘feeling“ of a Nano would be a SportCopter with the enclosure. SportCopter would definitely be a performer over the Nano.
 

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Vance

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I have no experience flying a Nano, but I wonder how well primary training to Sport Pilot in, say, a Cavalon would actually prepare one to fly a Nano.
Perhaps Vance or Ultracruiser can weigh in on that.
All of the gyroplanes I have flown fly like gyroplanes.

Gyroplane controls generally operate in a similar way.

The cyclic is for speed and maneuvering, the throttle is for altitude and the rudder manages yaw.

It appears to me most of the gyroplane accidents are caused by a misunderstanding of these controls.

Most of learning to fly a gyroplane is rotor management, the takeoff procedure and the landing procedure.

In my opinion a tandem gives the sight picture of a single place machine and a side my side is more like the pitch stability of a single place gyroplane.

A particular design may have some coffin corners that are unique.

I have not flown a Nano so I have no opinion on how like any particular gyroplane she flies.

What is learned about radio work, airspace, weather and risk mitigation pretty much applies to all aircraft.
 

DavePA11

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With any ultralight, the pilot has to take into account the limited power available and how that impacts takeoff, climb and recovery from poor landing. I have witnessed students soloing their under powered 2 stroke aircraft after training in dual aircraft with high performance 4 stroke Rotax 912 engines, and they don’t take into account the difference in power and fly right into tree tops.

I think it takes more skill flying ultralight aircraft in general than more capable aircraft.

The power in a Sportcopter M912 is what made it fun to fly. Can’t wait for the Sportcopter M2 to come out. I’d even fly out to Oregon to take a test flight to see if worth selling my Husky for one. :)
 

Tyger

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Dave, what would the approximate value of your old Sportcopter M912 be today?
 

Jazzenjohn

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All of the gyroplanes I have flown fly like gyroplanes.
I've asked several people the question of how similar or different gyros fly. Could you point out some of the different gyros you've flown and what differences they had, especially the extremes? The gyro with the biggest differences I've noted is the Magni with the very heavy stick, and the big difference between open and faired gyros with how much aerodynamic difference they can make.
 

DavePA11

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Dave, what would the approximate value of your old Sportcopter M912 be today?
I think it would be around the same as what I bought and sold it for. I wish I kept it, and just swapped the 912 for 914 for flying around the Rocky Mountains. Still thinking about getting gyro and selling Husky, but not sure after all the accidents and lack of insurance now. Would be great to fly with the fellow in Salida to see what it’s like at our elevations out here...

The Sportcopter M912 was very different from AR-1, Apollo, Magni and MTO Sport gyros I flew. It was much more nimble, and could do things the 2 seaters could not or wouldn’t want to try. Don’t decend too low in big quarries as can be hard to fly out. :)

okay. What does tautological mean? Who uses that word?

Nano Ultralight - maybe like a mini bike with lawnmower engine. (But never flew one)
Sportcopter M912 - Like high powered dirt bike.
Apollo and MTO Sport - Kinda like the Honda naked bikes
Magni - Maybe like the BMW R1250 bike. A bit Less nimble, but great all around bike.
AR-1 - Maybe like the Honda Gold Wing safe and reliable cruiser.
 
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Tyger

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Care to put a number on it for us? You don't see them for sale too often.
 

Tyger

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Well... those who studied maths at school, or more specifically were required to provide mathematical proofs for homework, know that a tautology is something that is always true: "a statement that is true by necessity or by virtue of its logical form". One could also call it "circular reasoning".
So yes, all gyroplanes do fly like gyroplanes. That's always going to be true, by definition, but it does not give any actual insight.

I was once at a ski shop trying on new gloves. It took me a while to find a pair I liked, so when I finally took them to the cashier, he said to me, "So how do those fit?" I said, "Like a glove!"
He said, "I really asked for that one, didn't I?" ☺️
 
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I think it would be around the same as what I bought and sold it for. I wish I kept it, and just swapped the 912 for 914 for flying around the Rocky Mountains. Still thinking about getting gyro and selling Husky, but not sure after all the accidents and lack of insurance now. Would be great to fly with the fellow in Salida to see what it’s like at our elevations out here...

The Sportcopter M912 was very different from AR-1, Apollo, Magni and MTO Sport gyros I flew. It was much more nimble, and could do things the 2 seaters could not or wouldn’t want to try. Don’t decend too low in big quarries as can be hard to fly out. :)

okay. What does tautological mean? Who uses that word?

Nano Ultralight - maybe like a mini bike with lawnmower engine. (But never flew one)
Sportcopter M912 - Like high powered dirt bike.
Apollo and MTO Sport - Kinda like the Honda naked bikes
Magni - Maybe like the BMW R1250 bike. A bit Less nimble, but great all around bike.
AR-1 - Maybe like the Honda Gold Wing safe and reliable cruiser.
Appreciate the analogy!
 

Doug Riley

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I think Vance's point deserves more credit. It's quite possible for a gyroplane to fly more or less "airplane-ish," for example. While I haven't flown a gyro with wings, ailerons and elevators (please, please, may I??), I suspect it would be much more airplane-ish than any direct-cyclic gyro. In maneuvers in a winged gyro, the airframe will lead and the rotor will follow -- just the opposite of what we are all used to.

At the other extreme, a gyro with a swashplate system and heavy blades (Air & Space 18A, LFINO, Groen Hawk IV) would likely have a longer control lag and less control-pressure feedback than a tilt-spindle job.

"Fly like a gyroplane" might mean, for example: a very high drag when the stick goes aft; appreciable RRPM lag when getting the blades up to flight speed on takeoff; smaller control movements than in a FW plane; variable control effectiveness depending on G load; simple turning technique (no adverse yaw and little-to-no overbanking tendency); steep glide; and near-zero landing flares -- and a few other things that Vance can elaborate upon.

The biggest difference among gyro models that I've flown is their static stability (or instability) in pitch. This is really noticeable -- the pitch-stable ones nose down into updrafts; the pitch-instable ones nose up in updrafts. If you forget which kind you are flying, you will soon have an "ah-ha" moment... at least I have.

BTW, my 447 Gyrobee beats the Part 103 weight limit by a couple pounds. It is stripped, though -- plastic wheels, nosewheel scrub brake, overhead stick, minimal instruments, lightened nosewheel block, no unitized nosewheel steering, 2-blade wood prop and of course no prerotator. Climb is surprisingly decent with 24.5-foot Rotordynes. Climb performance is quite a bit better than my old 447 Air Command, which weighed a good 30 lb. more and had a 23' rotor.
 

BEN S

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"Don’t descend too low in big quarries as can be hard to fly out. :)"
Ain't that the truth! had to do quite a few scenic spirals to get the hell out of a copper mine near Tucson once!

AS for the feel of a gyro, Vance, I'm gonna take a big pass on that statement.
I have flown a Bensen and a Lightning (extensively), and flown much larger heavier two places, Xenon and Doms and Sportcopter 2s,
To suggest that a Sportcopter 2 travelling at 100 mph in total comfort of Italian leather, smooth and fast and solid feeling flies somehow like a Sportcopter Lightning out in the open at 55 mph dodging June beetles? Nope. not even close to the same experience.
That's like saying a Honda Goldwing is like riding a Yamaha RZ 350 Kenny Roberts Edition two stroke, cause you know they are both bikes....
An open seat gyro with middle weight and mid power is just about as perfect as an old Yamaha FZ750.
I too have seen pilots who are so dependent on massive amounts of HP that if they hopped into an ultralight with minimal power would most likely end up balling it because they are so use to powering out of undesirable situations.
What ever you get into get the best training money can buy.
 

Vance

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I've asked several people the question of how similar or different gyros fly. Could you point out some of the different gyros you've flown and what differences they had, especially the extremes? The gyro with the biggest differences I've noted is the Magni with the very heavy stick, and the big difference between open and faired gyros with how much aerodynamic difference they can make.
That is a big question John.

My advice is to follow the pilot’s operating handbook if you have one.

Based on my experience:

A high thrust line gyroplane will nose up when power is reduced and nose down when power is increased.

A low thrust line gyroplane will nose down when power is reduced and nose up when power is added.

Most Rotax 9 series gyroplanes with a short vertical stabilizer/ rudder will yaw right when power is reduced and left when power is added.

A side by side is generally less pitch and yaw stable than a tandem because of the lower polar moment and control configuration.

An offset gimbal rotor head needs increased back pressure as the bank increases to maintain altitude.

A spindle head gives less feedback and generally speaking requires more attention.

The various nose wheel steering systems may be more or less sensitive to pedal input and have more or less self-centering depending on the design.

A properly setup nose wheel steering in no wind conditions will not get the wiggles when you touch it back down when taking off.

The location of the mains has a lot to do with how a gyroplane lifts off.

A tail wheel gives you options on landing that are absent without a tail wheel.

In my opinion with most gyroplanes I have flown if I touch the tail wheel on takeoff the nose is too high and she will lift off at a lower indicated airspeed than is desirable and ridding the tail wheel is a bad habit to get into.

Most of the gyroplanes I have flown like to have the nose wheel less than an inch off the ground during the takeoff roll. Again, read the POH.

How a gyroplane reacts when it is landed hard varies considerably.

Some give all the energy back, some will just settle in and some have no suspension at all.

The more drag a gyroplane has the faster it will descend when power is reduced. This is particularly noticeable comparing a Calidus to an MTO.

The various trim systems have different feels.

The pre-rotation scheme is different for different gyroplane and again follow the POH.

Some gyroplane blades are easier to sail than others.

Sailing a blade is all about too much indicated air speed for the rotor rpm.

I am off to teach, I may add to this when I re-read it tonight.

This is not an invitation to debate as this is based on my experience.

If someone has had a different experience please elaborate to broaden everyone’s experience.

I like every gyroplane I have flown and am not denigrating a particular design.
 
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