We recently had a commercial airline pilot, Aarron Deliu come and do his gyroplane conversion with us. Rather than have us tell everybody how he went, Aarron thought it would be better coming straight from the horses mouth so he volunteered to write up a report on his experiences with us.
So here it is…thanks Aaron, look forward to having you back soon mate.
First off let me give you a background of myself.
I am an Aviation enthusiast and have been all my life. However my Career in Aviation started when I was 15 years old. I started learning to fly in Gliders and then progressed onto Powered Fixed wing Cessna’s and the like.
I continued my training and obtained all my licences right through to my Commercial licence. After that I progressed onto small turbine charter aircraft then onto corporate jets, then before I knew it I was flying for an Airline.
I have been an Airline pilot for some time now and must say I have the best job in the world.
HOWEVER, Airline flying yet enjoyable lacks the exhilarating feeling that you can only get at 500 to 3000 feet above the terrain while flying a small aircraft.
So why Autogyro’s, well it all stemmed from my curiosity of how Helicopters and Gyrocopters actually manage to fly that led me to come across a company called EAST COAST AUTOGYRO.
Once at their website I decided instantly that this is something I should do. So I contacted Craig, the marketing manager, and he set everything up.
I flew into Sydney and boarded a flight up to Port Macquarie; I was greeted at the airport and driven to Kempsey airport, where I met Mick Riddle and the craft that was going to take me into the skies.
Now I have never flown a rotor craft, so seeing the Gyro sitting there with no wing, I did not know what to expect, yet I was extremely ready to see how this contraption flies and master it as soon as I can.
Prior to arriving I did some research on Gyro’s on the Internet – from what I read I could not help but get the message that Gyro’s are dangerous, they always crash, insurance company’s hate them and that they have lots of problems, so with that in mind I had developed an impression that the Gyro is a vicious flying machine and that I will have to be very careful.
Mick introduced me to the red machine that would teach me about Gyro’s. He pointed out every important component explaining how it works. I then learned that this is the one of the few Gyro’s that are certified to Europe standards.
Most of the Gyro’s that are flying in Australia and the world for that fact are home-built, so maybe this is why they have a bad rap, but still I needed to get in a find out for myself.
We then got in and he had me start the engine, taxi out and do the appropriate checks. It was surprisingly simple.
So we were ready the rotor pre rotated to 200rpm, Mick gave me the go ahead to apply power.
From there the Gyro accelerated very smoothly, shortly after the nose lifted off, Mick told me to apply forward pressure on the stick to hold it there, the Gyro then lifted of smoothly and we climbed away. We went out and just flew, Mick showing me how to hover like a helicopter and how to do 180 degree turns on the spot. Things that you can’t imagine possible as a fixed wing pilot.
It was incredible to be able to stop on the spot and then turn around and fly again without losing any altitude. While all the while only burning 15 litres of Car Petrol an hour, such an economical way to surf the skies.
Mick showed me the characteristics of the gyro; many of the myths just are not true with gyrocopters, well at least the MTO Sport.
I found that the Gyro is very stable only requiring a light hold on the stick, it holds it attitude and altitude very well when in trim, yet its incredibly easy to manoeuvre in all axis. We then did some slow speed flight and I mean slow 20-30knots slow and once again right down towards a hover. We were well behind the drag curve so to speak.
In fixed wing we are taught not to fly behind the drag curve as when on this, ie slow speed, if you want to increase speed you need to lower the nose and accept an altitude loss. But in the Gyro this altitude loss in the order of 10 or so feet and it is very easy and quick to increase to normal speeds.
However that’s not the worst trait of flying behind the drag curve, the main one is stalling.
You can get to a point by where you are too slow and the wing stalls, that is it loses its smooth airflow and hence the lift component is insufficient to support the weight of the aircraft, thus the aircraft will normally descend abruptly towards the ground, with a high potential (if the pilot is not ahead of the aircraft) for it to go into a spin, if one wing stalls prior to the other.
However in a gyro this is not so, it is Impossible to stall or even spin a Gyrocopter, you can hold that still fully back and all that happens is that you slow down, followed by a temporary hover, then followed by the Gyro slowly descending vertically. To stop this all you need to do is apply power and put the stick back to a central position.
So long gone are the days where a pilot can stall while coming into land as he gets too slow close to the ground followed by the pilot losing control.
So while we were still flying I pondered on why are these aircraft given such bad rap, Ok it must be the landing, they must be brutal to land.
Time to find out, we join the circuit, hold on there’s traffic on base, so we need to allow for more spacing, so we slow to 30 knots, ok enough spacing, we accelerate and continue, now on base I reduce power and start descending, 55 knots, checks complete where coming in.
We turn finals, 100feet, 50feet, 20 feet, 10 feet, Ok its going to be a tough one, 2 feet FLARE, close the throttle, pull back on the stick, touchdown an incredibly smooth touchdown, but hang on we just touchdown and we are stationary.
Wow, This Gyrocopter is amazing, its stable, manoeuvrable, extremely smooth in turbulence, safe to fly, can hover, can fly faster than a helicopter yet can’t stall or spin and can land on a postage stamp, a 50 cent one.
We taxied in shut down the engine and got out. I had a big grin on my face and a new outlook on Gyro’s.
I went on and continued my training and am now a licensed Gyrocopter pilot and can say that Mick Riddle and East Coast Gyro is a great school and I thoroughly recommend them to anyone wanting to learn to fly.