Lone Star Rotorcraft Club

How Safe Are They?

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

Ok, so just how safe is a gyroplane?

There is an old saying which has been floating around in aircraft circles for a long time, "there are old pilots and bold pilots, but there are very few old, bold, pilots" and this statement is just as true with cars, motorcycles, boats, jet skis, or whatever sports field you are interested in.

Gyroplanes are as safe as you want to make them. With the proper training, you'll learn to avoid the mistakes others have made. If you do good preflight inspections and keep good presence of mind, flying gyroplanes is considerably safer than driving cars, and all of us do that.

Besides nothing beats the thrill and fun of flying a gyro!

Flying a gyroplane is primarily a sport, something to have a good time doing and share the experiences with a group of others who enjoy the same sport.

However, depending on where you live, you might be able to make movies with them, chasing the bad guys as James Bond or the Road Warrior's friend did or maybe to fly the range checking cattle or sheep or whatever critters you have on your ranch. They have also been used in several research / scientific ventures.

Gyroplanes are fun toys for those people that enjoy doing something a little different and out of the ordinary. 

To build or not to build, that is the question - "Shakespeare / 1639 ?"

While you can definitely save yourself some dollars by building something yourself and you may need to or just want to do that,  the decision to build is often more one of personal satisfaction.  Just as important is the fact that when you finish, you will know your equipment inside and out and better be able to take care of it and in turn it can better take care of you.  The FAA will also allow you to do your own maintenance, which will further save you money.

You can either start from scratch and buy plans or buy a kit which already has everything you need in it (most do it this way).  Either way there are plenty of us on the local scene who have built and restored aircraft and are more than willing to share our experience with you.

If you are into scrapbooks, building a gyroplane will provide you with plenty of pictures and good memories of the project.

Homebuilt aircraft are a large part of the sport aviation field and the internet is a great resource for getting questions answered from outside the local area. There is no limit to the amount of information out here on the net and in books.     


Ultralight or not?

You are not necessarily going to save a lot of money with an ultralight gyroplane. To stay within the ultralight rules, you will have to use a two cycle engines such as a Rotax, Hirth or 2SI and these can set you back as much as $3000 or more depending on what you get. Two cycle engines give you the best power to weight ratio, but they cost more and are a little more temperamental.

If you don't get an ultralight, weight isn't a restriction from the FAA standpoint and a used four cycle car motor, such as a Subaru EA81, or an old Volkswagen engine, can be used. These can cost as little as $400 and they can be rebuilt cheaply. You lose a little of the power to weight ratio with water cooled motors, but they are generally less temperamental and have more usable life between overhauls than the two cycles.

The initial main attraction of ultralights to new enthusiasts is the fact that in the US neither the pilot or the ultralight need a license to fly. But you are going to need plenty of training anyway, so you may as well get a license to show for your time, money, and trouble.

There are changes coming from the FAA about Sport Licenses and Recreational Licenses, and if you get one, you don't have to worry about the limitations of an ultralight. The requirements for these licenses will be posted on another web page soon.

Where can I get training and a gyro?

Go to the PRA WebSite

There is a list of trainers there.

Also at,

Go to Rotorcraft.com


Special message from the Chapter President

Most important - what do I tell the other half of the family about why I (we) need to do this and how it will make a better, more complete person (family) out of me (us).

First of all you will notice that there is no gender in the above statement and for good reason. There are a few of you ladies out there that can give us boys a run for our money and we hope you will - at least in flying gyroplanes.

I am an "expert" or pundit ( British term for the same thing ) on this subject, or at least I have had experience on both sides of the issue.  I have both accomplished it and just as easily unaccomplished it. Otherwise, I can't always tell you what to do but I can damn sure tell what not to do. 

All jokes aside, if both parties can participate in the sport, it makes it much more fun and rewarding, both from a flying and people standpoint. I certainly hope both parties get involved, you'll have a great time.

Greg Massey
Chapter President


Remember -  Nothing beats the thrill and fun of

flying a gyroplane !!

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