How does a gyroplane fly?
Is it the same as a gyrocopter?
Who invented the gyroplane?
Has anyone ever flown across the country before?
How fast, how slow and how high can you go?
How does a gyroplane differ from a helicopter?
What engine does your gyroplane have?
How long will the trip take?
Where do you land?
How do you start the blades spinning?
How far can you fly on one tank of gas?
Do you file a flight plan?
1. Gyroplanes have a propeller that
pushes them through the air. The rotors are tilted back to catch the wind
and as the wind moves past them it makes them spin. The rotors have an
airfoil shape just like an airplane wing and so as the wind spins them they
provide lift. Like many airplanes there is one stick between the
pilot's legs that controls banking left or right and climbing or descending.
There are also rudder pedals which are primarily used on take-off and landing.
In the air the rudders are not used as much as the rudders on an airplane.
Unlike an airplane a gyro will not stall or spin.
2. Gyroplane, gyrocopter, autogiro- all
mean the same thing. The official FAA term is gyroplane.
3. The gyroplane was invented in 1929 in
Spain by Juan de la Cierva. Gyros were extremely popular for awhile
but eventually were overshadowed by the invention of the helicopter.
4. Chuck Feil has flown his gyro in all 48
states previously. Due to unforeseen circumstances Chuck was forced to use
a truck to carry his gyro over the mountains of Utah. We hope to make ours the first continuous voyage.
Chuck is a talented photographer and has published several books of aerial
photographs taken from his gyro. To read more about Chuck you can find his
website from our links page. Andy Keech recently flew his gyroplane coast
to coast both ways setting several world records along the way. Captain
Johnny Miller and Amelia Earhart both flew gyros coast to coast in the 1930's.
Captain Johnny Miller was first by only a few days. Johnny will be 100
years old in December of 2005 and is still flying his Beechcraft Bonanza. (see
5. My gyro's top speed is about 85 mph
but cruises most comfortably at about 70 mph. So far the highest altitude I
have climbed to is 7,000' which is near what I expect to need to cross the
mountainous areas of our country. The real fun though is flying low and
slow and looking at the scenery. My gyro can go as slow as about 25 mph
and I often fly from 150 to 500 feet off the ground. In uninhabited areas
I sometimes fly 10-20 feet off the ground.
6. In a helicopter the engine turns the
rotor blades and the pitch of each rotor blade can be adjusted in flight.
In a gyro the rotor blades are just spun by the air passing them. Most
gyros do not have a collective control so the pitch of the blades can not be adjusted in flight. A gyro cannot take off or land vertically and cannot hover.
7. My engine is a Subaru 2.2 litre engine
with a standard carburetor. It provides approximately 130 hp. At some
point in the future I would like to upgrade it to a fuel injected 2.5 litre
Subaru engine for more power.
8. The approximate trip distance is
12,000 statute miles. We hope to travel about 60 days spread out over a
seven to eight month period starting in March of 2005.
9. Gyros can land in very small spaces
but I need about 500' of runway to take-off so we plan to stop at regular
airports throughout our trip. In an emergency a gyro can be landed nearly
anywhere as the touchdown speed is less than 15 mph and the ground roll is only
a few feet.
10. In small gyros you simply stand on
the seat and start them spinning by hand. My gyro has a pre-rotator that
uses a clutch to send some engine power to start them up. The pre-rotator
spins them to about 150 rpm at which point it is disengaged and I begin my taxi
roll. As my speed increases the blades spin faster and faster. When
my speed reaches approximately 50 mph the rotor blades will be at about 300
rpm and the gyro lifts into the air. In flight the rotors spin at about
300-320 rpm. The rotor speed is not controlled directly by the pilot but
is a function of the weight of the gyro and the flying maneuver being done.
11. My gyroplane tank holds 23 gallons
of gas. I burn premium auto gas though when that is unavailable I buy low
lead aviation fuel. At cruise rpm it burns about 7.5 gallons per hour.
I try to flight plan for a maximum time of 2 hours (130 statute miles) giving me
a good safety margin.
12. A flight plan is a detailed report
you file with the FAA that tells them where you are going and when. A
flight plan DOES NOT help you make your flight. Its
main purpose is that if you do not show up by a certain time they will know approximately where to
look for a downed airplane. Whenever there is a small plane accident the
media is quick to report that the "pilot had not filed a flight plan".
This gives the totally erroneous impression that he was irresponsible or already
doing something wrong. In the past I have almost always filed a flight
plan for cross country trips but there is absolutely nothing wrong with not
filing one. On this trip since Dee always knows exactly where I am going
and when I am expected to arrive I in effect file a flight plan with her instead
of with the FAA.