Gyroplane Most Frequently Asked Questions

Sport Pilot Requirements        Category: Rotorcraft    Class: Gyroplane

Required Flight Training: 20 hours of total flight time, including:
   15 hours of flight training from an authorized instructor in a gyroplane
     3 hours of flight training on those areas of operation specified in 61.311 preparing for the practical test within 60 days before the date of the test.
     5 hours (minimum) of solo flight training in the areas of operation listed in 61.311, to include:
          2 hours of cross-country flight training
         10 takeoffs and landings to a full stop (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport
          1 solo cross-country flight of at least 50 nautical miles total distance, with a full-stop landing at a minimum of two points, and one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of at least 25 nautical miles between the takeoff and landing locations

1. How long does it take to build a gyroplane?
Building times will vary depending on the specific make and model of gyroplane. Typically, build times will vary anywhere from 80 to 1000 hours.

2. Can a gyroplane take off and land vertically?
In general, no. However, gyroplanes can have a relatively short take-off run, and a zero-foot landing run is possible. Some gyroplanes have a jump take-off capability that is obtained by pre-rotating the rotor blades to high speeds and then using the stored energy to jump into the air.

3. What is a typical glide ration for a gyroplane?
Typically around 4 to 1. That is, four feet forward for every one foot of descent. While this appears to be nothing compared to a fixed-wing glide ratio, should an emergency landing be required this allows for a safe glide path and landing to terrain almost directly below the gyrocopter.

4. How long of a runway will I need?
The length of the gyroplane take-off roll depends on the wind, the amount of rotor RPM gained during pre-rotation, and other factors, such as density altitude, aircraft loading and pilot technique. The take-off roll can vary from nearly zero to several hundred feet.

5. What is a typical gyroplane's life expectancy?
Like most other aircraft, the gyroplane airframe has a virtually unlimited life expectancy. The rotor, propeller and engine will have a varying lifetime, depending on the manufacturer. The typical TBO for engines normally varies between 1000 and 2000 hours.

6. How high can a gyroplane fly?
This will depend primarily on the engine and the pilot's courage. A fuel-injected engine can operate at higher altitudes than a normally aspirated engine. A recent gyroplane altitude record was set at over 20,000 feet; however, most gyroplane flying is done between 500 and 1000 feet above the surface.

7. Can I teach myself to fly a gyroplane?
The chances of you losing your life, or being seriously injured, are quite high if you attempt to teach yourself how to fly gyrocopters! Just as learning to fly a fixed-wing aircraft requires instruction by a qualified CFI, learning to fly a gyroplane also requires instruction from a competent gyroplane instructor.

8. I am an experienced fixed-wing or helicopter pilot. Will I still need gyroplane training?
Absolutely! The gyroplane is a very unique aircraft with flight characteristics that differ greatly from both airplanes and helicopters. Experienced fixed-wing pilots will have some un-learning to do and typically need about 15 hours or more to transition to a gyroplane. However, helicopter pilots, due to their rotorcraft knowledge and experience, can usually make the transition in around 10 hours.

9. When and where can I obtain gyroplane flight training?
Dual instruction is offered by many gyroplane CFIs (including me) in the United States and many other countries. You can find a comprehensive list of certified/qualified flight instructors at:
Popular Rotorcraft Association Instructor List
Gyro Training Web Site
and many others.

10. How safe are gyroplanes?
Most of us consider the gyroplane to be one of the the safest aircraft of all, the primary reason being: they can't stall. With proper training, flying a gyroplane is an extremely safe and enjoyable sport. For more information about gyroplanes and safety, visit Lone Star Rotor Club out in Texas. They have good information and photos on their site!

11. What happens if the engine quits?
Unlike helicopters, which must make an immediate and difficult transition from powered flight to autorotation, the gyroplane is always in autorotation. So while an engine failure will usually result in an off-field forced landing, the gyroplane's low landing speed and the short landing distance required makes this is an extremely safe operation. As a part of standard flight training, your instructor will ensure you are competent to perform this maneuver safely.

12. Does a gyroplane have to be registered with the FAA?
Unless your gyroplane falls into the ultra-light category (under 255 lbs), the answer is YES. Your gyroplane will require an N-number and must be registered with the FAA. It will also require an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate.

13. Can I perform maintenance and repairs on my gyroplane?
Once your gyroplane has an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate, and you have flown the required number of test hours in a designated area, you may apply for a Repairman certificate. This certificate allows you to repair your own gyroplane and perform all required inspections.

14. Where can I obtain information on upcoming rotorcraft events?
A good starting place is the Popular Rotorcraft Association website. The site provides a good source of gyrocopter information, listings of upcoming events, as well as links to other local PRA chapters.

15. What is the difference between a gyroplane, gyrocopter and an autogiro?
All three terms refer to the same type of aircraft. Autogiro was the term applied to this type of flying machine by its original inventor, Juan de la Cierva. Later, when Igor Bensen marketed the plans for his single-place machine in the USA, he trademarked the name "Gyrocopter". However, gyroplane is the official FAA designation for this Category/Class of aircraft.

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