introduction to Start Flying learn to fly fixed wing aircraft learn to fly helicopters or autogyros learn to fly ultralights and microlights learn to fly gliders learn to fly hangliders learn to fly paragliders and paramotors learn to fly balloons


  how helicopters work
  about flying helicopters
  how to fly a helicopter
  first time flying experience
  how to read an air map
  basic aircraft navigation
  about airfields
  licensing requirements
  where to fly a helicopter
   helicopter FAQs

  the history of autogyros
  how autogyros work
  how to fly an autogyro
  first time flying experience
  autogyro courses
  autogyro glossary

helicopters and autogyros

There are two types of rotary winged aircraft. Helicopters have a powered rotor head, can hover and take off and land vertically, are very complex machines and very expensive to purchase and operate. A Robinson R22, perhaps the most popular light helicopter for the private pilot, will set you back around $145,000.

It is said that helicopters do not fly, they beat the air into submission! Helicopter flight is a complex subject; for a brief introduction, click on helicopters. Helicopters don't need runways and can often take to you where you really want to go to. Unlike fixed wing aircraft, you can also fly into large cities like London. The smaller privately owned helicopters are however relatively slow, have a short range and are unable to carry much weight.

Helicopters are expensive to learn to fly, typical prices being between 175 and 250 an hour in the UK. In the USA you can get dual training in an R-22 from around $160 per hour, but even so it will probably cost you around $7,000 to get your licence.

If a helicopter is just too expensive or complex for you, then you might prefer the autogyro, made famous by Little Nellie in the James Bond film "You Only Live Twice". The autogyro has an unpowered rotor that rotates because of the air flowing over it. Forward motion is provided by a propeller. You can think of the autogyro (or gyrocopter) as a conventional aircraft or ultralight with a freewheeling rotor instead of a wing. Autogyros require a runway, although they can land nearly vertically and with almost zero roll-out. They are very much cheaper to learn to fly, to purchase and to operate than a helicopter, Simple to fly, easy to store and transport and cheap to build, buy or own, one or two seat autogyros are constantly attracting new converts and enthusiasts. However, there are substantial differences in the principles of gyro flight, and if a pilot is to make a successful and safe conversion it is essential that these are grasped.

Gyro training is usually carried out in two seaters nowadays, and is relatively cheap - comparable to the cost of ultralight training.