Lone Star Rotorcraft Club

FAQ's About Gyro's

We are Chapter 62 of the Popular RotorCraft Association, located in Houston, Texas.

Frequently Asked Questions About Gyro's

How long does it take to build a gyroplane?
Can a gyroplane take off and land vertically?

What is a typical glide ratio for a gyroplane?

How long a runway will I need?

What is the aircraft's life expectancy?

How high can a gyroplane fly?

Can I teach myself to fly?

I am an experienced fixed wing/helicopter/airplane pilot. Do I need lessons?

Where can I get lessons?

How safe is it?

What happens if the engine quits.

Do I have to register my gyro?

Can I do repairs myself?

Where can I obtain information on rotorcraft events?

What is the difference between a gyroplane, an autogiro and a gyrocopter?

How long does it take to build a gyroplane?

Building times will vary depending on the manufacturer. Typical times vary from 80 to 1000 hours.

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Can a gyroplane take off and land vertically?

In general no. However gyroplanes have a relatively short take off run and a zero foot landing run is possible. Some gyroplanes have a jump takeoff capability obtained by pre-rotating the rotor to high speeds and then using this energy to jump.

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What is a typical glide ratio for a gyroplane?

Typically 4 to 1, that is four feet forward to 1 foot down. Nothing to write home about, but it allows a safe landing to terrain directly below the aircraft, should an emergency landing be necessary.

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How long a runway will I need?

The length of the take-off roll depends on wind, the amount of pre-rotation, and other factors such as density altitude, loading and pilot technique. The take off roll can vary from zero to several hundred feet.

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What is the aircraft's life expectancy?

Like most other aircraft, the airframe has a virtual unlimited life. The rotor, propeller, and engine will have varying life depending on the manufacturer. Typical life for engines and rotor systems vary between 1000 to 2000 hours.

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How high can a gyroplane fly?

That will depend mainly on the engine. A fuel injected engine can operate at higher altitudes than a normally aspirated engine. A recent altitude record was set above 20,000 feet. However, most gyroplane flying is done from 500 to 1000 feet above the surface.

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Can I teach myself to fly?

Your chances of losing your life or becoming seriously injured are quite high. Just like learning to fly a fixed wing aircraft requires instruction, learning to fly a gyroplane requires instruction from a competent gyroplane instructor.

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I am an experienced fixed wing/helicopter/airplane pilot. Do I need lessons?

Yes. The gyroplane is a completely different aircraft and it has flight characteristics different from airplanes and helicopters. Experienced fixed wing pilots have some un-learning to do and typically take 15 hours or more to transition to a gyroplane. Helicopter pilots, due to rotorcraft experience can usually make the transition in 10 hours or more.

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Where can I get lessons?

Dual instruction is offered by many Certified Flight Instructors (CFI-Gyro) in the United States and other countries of the World. Instructors that are members of the Ask First Society are listed on this Web site.

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How safe is it?

With proper instruction, flying a gyroplane is a very safe and enjoyable sport.

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What happens if the engine quits.

Since the rotor on a gyroplane is always in autorotation, an engine failure results in a forced landing. Due to the low landing speed and low landing distance required, this is an extremely safe operation. Your flight instructor will insure that you are competent to perform this maneuver safely.

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Do I have to register my gyro?

Unless your gyroplane falls in the Ultralight category (less than 254 lbs), the answer is YES. Your gyroplane needs an N-number and will require registration. It also needs an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate. Ask First Members can access the Members Only area for all required application forms. 

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Can I do repairs myself?

Once your gyroplane has an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate and you have flown off the required number of test hours in a designated area, you may apply for a repairman certificate which allows you to repair your own gyroplane and do your own required inspections.

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Where can I obtain information on rotorcraft events?

A good starting place is the PRA or Popular Rotorcraft Association. They have listings of events as well as links to local chapters. Two main rotorcraft events are Bensen Days in Wachula, FL , held the week before the EAA's Sun and Fun in Lakeland, Florida, and Mentone, Indiana fly-in held the week before the EAA's Airventure in Wisconsin.

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What is the difference between a gyroplane, an autogiro and a gyrocopter?

All three words refer to the same aircraft. Autogiro was an early term applied to this type of aircraft. When Igor Bensen marketed his plans, he trademarked the name Gyrocopter. Gyroplane is the official FAA word for the Category/Class.

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