Thursday, December 22, 2011

Flying the Gyro

My powered parachute sold last week. As always happens, I forgot to put a few things in the trailer and needed to run them up to Blum so Craig would have them. I was hoping to fly up there. A flight in the Chief would probably be around an hour, which is much better than the 2.5 hour drive. The Chief is still down though and even if it wasn’t both my field and Craig’s were too wet anyway.

So, Saturday I had to drop a friend off in McGregor anyway and decided to just continue on to Craig’s place. Craig offered to take me up in the gyro and I accepted! It was time to fly. It was a different experience than my first flight. He put me in the front seat, which gave me a lot more visibility and it was a lot more fun.

He had me taxi since he couldn’t see the cow patties around me! Texas-style runway! It’s pretty simple, the throttle looks like two little handles. You roll the whole assembly forward to advance the throttle and squeeze the two handles together for brakes. I actually liked that system for braking a lot. Once lined up on the runway he had me push pre-rotor button and hold it until the rotor reached a certain speed, I’m thinking it was 2500 RPM, then we released the brakes and he took over. Once off the ground, you have to keep the nose down to gain airspeed, similar to keeping a plane in ground effect. Once we saw 60mph (or knots?), we pulled up and he gave it back to me.

I was surprised that flying it was a lot like flying an airplane, except you don’t use the rudders much for normal flight. I had to use them twice, basically when you feel a breeze on one shoulder, you push that rudder. Otherwise it’s all done with the stick. Like a plane, to dive, you pull the power back and push the stick forward. To climb you pull back and add power. When you get to 90, it starts to vibrate more and by 120 he says it will vibrate so much you’ll know you need to slow down. I never exceeded 90 and it shook enough I knew I’d gained speed and pulled back on the stick to slow it down.

Landing was like landing a plane. Use the rudders to line up, dive at the runway, and flare.

So now I will say I liked it. The only thing I really didn’t like was the stick shaking. It shakes a lot and I got tired of holding it in a very short time. Apparently this is common, but I could see it getting old on a long trip. Maybe it will just take some getting used to.

After we landed, I jumped into his Airwolf and took some air-to-air shots of the gyro. I wasn’t happy with most of them, so I’ll only share a few. I know what I need to do with the camera next time to get good shots though, so I’m looking forward to another chance!

Taking aerial shots from the gyro is as easy, if not a little easier than it is from a PPC. The leaves are starting to change colors. The only thing this photo is missing is a PPC!

Jack "Spinning Wing" Fleetwood

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