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autogyros

The origins of the present day Autogyro come from the original 'Autogiro' invented by the Spanish Engineer Juan de la Cierva. They are now known as autogiros, giros, gyrocopters and gyro kites depending on their origins. These aircraft share the generic category of Rotorcraft with Helicopters, which use an overhead rotor to generate lift rather than wings, but are distinctly different in the way they fly.

Like a helicopter, a Gyroplane generates the lift needed to fly by using Rotors rather than wings - that is the one and only similarity they have. Unlike a helicopter, the rotors are not actually powered - all they need to keep moving is a flow of air over their surfaces. The lift this creates will become a self-sustaining force which both keeps the aeroplane in the air and keeps the Rotors turning. Also unlike a helicopter, a Gyroplane has a propeller which is powered by the engine to generate thrust which moves the machine forward.

Though they share the same basic controls as a fixed wing aeroplane - Stick, Throttle, and Rudder pedals - Gyroplanes are totally different. Though the same basic control inputs are needed as a fixed wing aeroplane, the Gyroplane is significantly more nifty and manoeuvrable. Gyro pilots will routinely perform manoeuvres such as steep turns which would leave their fixed wing counterparts gasping for breath. As if that wasn't unusual enough in itself, these manoeuvres are also performed without any of the gut-wrenching changes in G force "enjoyed" by fixed wing pilots.

Autogyros tend to look rather goofy: either like airplanes with a giant rotor where wings should be, or like stunted helicopters missing their tails. They can’t fly as fast or as far as fixed-wing airplanes, and they can’t hover or manoeuvre like helicopters. (Some designs, however, do provide power to the rotor temporarily to facilitate a vertical or near-vertical takeoff and landing.) If those trade-offs sound like the worst of both worlds, though, consider that unlike airplanes, autogyros are virtually stall-proof, no matter how slow they’re going. If the engine gave out, the rotor would keep spinning, and the craft—if controlled carefully by the pilot—could simply float to the ground. All this does not necessarily mean that autogyros are safer than other aircraft; numerous other considerations come into play. But in certain circumstances, with proper design and a well-trained operator, they can sometimes be safer.

There are numerous autogyro flying schools around the world and each country has its regulatory body governing the need or otherwise for a pilots licence. In some countries if the aircraft is under a certain weight you do not need a licence. However, wherever you live in the world and regardless of your previous flying experience you must undergo proper training these machines do not respond like a fixed wing aircraft or a helicopter.

If you try and teach yourself you will CRASH and become a statistic, possibly a dead one.

In summary therefore, Gyroplanes are a unique hybrid which have been around for years, but are now beginning to grow in popularity once more. It must be said that over the years, there have been a disproportionate number of fatalities in autogyros. New models are vastly improved, but great care should be taken in choosing which aircraft type to fly in.

 
 

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