All posts tagged gyroplane

It has been a very long time since my last post; about nine months actually. I had even taken my blog down. The end of 2012 was not a good time for me, with the end of a relationship I though was going to be it. It nearly killed me, literally. I lost 20Lbs in a few weeks and ended-up in the emergency room. Fortunately the money I had saved for an engagement ring (I never got to ask) helped me survive the end of the year. I would have gladly broken my other femur rather than go thought that. But you don’t need or want to hear about it.. I am doing better now, but for a stomach ulcer that came back with a vengeance. During these dark few months, I simply had nothing to post, and certainly didn’t feel like it.

Ham radio did give me something to think about and keep my mind occupied. I built more kits and got better at Morse code. It was therapy in a sense. A recent week-long camping trip completed my recovery, sort of.

Dagny is gone. Someone ransacked the boat and cut out all the bronze ports, stole the chain and anchor, anchor winch and everything else of value on the boat. In the end, it wasn’t worth it anymore for me to try to salvage what was left.

The Hornet gyroplane project is on hold. It has to take second place now to a more important and useful project. I have not given up on it. It will just have to wait. I did sell the engine unfortunately (along with my beloved guitar and my site. None of these can be replaced.) to buy that ring. What a waste.

Life goes on.. I need to take care of my health and decide where to go from here. I am thinking about either leaving the United States, or moving to another state. The way things are going around here, option one might be better. We’ll see. Bottom line is, something has to change.

Hornet Gyroplane: Still going… Next step willl be the landing gear. I am waiting for some extra cash to place an order at Aircraft Spruce. The Engine, a Rotax 447 is in my storage unit at the airport. That was a major item financially ($2000). Left to do: The tail (Dominator tail), 5 gal. fuel tank, rotor head, rotor blades (another major item). The rest is small potatoes, hardware, aluminum and such. I spent a lot of money traveling this summer, so the gyro was put on hold. We had such a great time though, no regrets! Keeping at it, I will finish it eventually. I give myself a one year deadline, let’s say before the end of the Mayan calender, October or something. I’ve got to fly that thing before the end of the world 😉

Dagny, my 32ft Steel Sailboat: Big disappointment here. Someone stole all the bronze ports on the boat, ten of them, worth thousands of dollars. I was wondering what to do about the whole restoration, but after this unfortunate event, honestly, I have lost hope to ever finish it. Sometimes you have to cut your losses. I have been paying $340 for storage at the marina every month, and that has taken it’s toll. So, the boat has to go. I am not giving up on sailing of course. Remembering the saying “Go small, go now!” I need to be a little more realistic with my boat building ambitions. So, here is my new boat project. It’s only 15ft long, but a strong blue-water design. It also can fit on a trailer or in a shipping container. No marina fees required here! I can also build it at home, instead of driving half an hour to Bradenton..

Lehigh County Long Rifle: Still going as well. It is a small, manageable project. I am only missing a few parts, so it won’t be long before I finish. I actually picked it up again this week for some sanding on the stock. That will be a great looking muzzle-loading gun. Again, I am not sticking to historical correctness, as the next step will be parkerizing the barrel..

That is it for building projects. I have too much to do as it is and need to stop starting too many things at once. I can finish the above three, if I don’t add anything else…

P90X: I have to say, results were great. Then, I slacked off before leaving this summer, and haven’t picked it up again yet. I put back on all the weight I lost during the five weeks I trained. Shame on me. So, another round it is, starting after my parents leave on December 2nd. What people interested in P90X need to realize, is that it is a lifelong commitment, not just a 90-day program. Although you don’t need to train as much as during the first 90 days, a regular exercise plan is a must to keep whatever you gained (or lost 😉 during that time. Otherwise, you will lose it all as I did. At leat, I know I can do it, and how to do it again. I know it works, and that will be a good motivation to start again. I consider doing P90X a great achievement, as it is anything but easy. I failed however to retain my gains, and I need to fix that.

Systema: Same as P90X, I slacked off.. It is like bicycle though, so I certainly haven’t lost it all. The physical aspect, I need to work on of course, and P90X will do that. I also need to go back to class! Teaching will certainly help too. Since I got requests for starting the pro-bono/class promotion study group again, I am thinking of setting it up again a couple times a month or so. Systema is more than something I do, it is now partially something I am. It is hard to explain to someone who isn’t practicing.. So, what don’t you try it? I am sure there is a class nearby where you live, check out Vladimir Vasiliev’s site, and for our local class schedule.

Work: I am getting into iPhone application development! Problem is, I need a Mac. It is a good field to get into because the current pool of IOS programmers can’t keep up with demand, and hourly rates soared to $100 to $200 per hour. Who knows how long that will last, but I need to catch that ride before things calm down a bit. I do want to publish my own apps of course, as well as write apps for whomever hires me to do so. Anyone has a great idea and a development/marketing budget?

Other Stuff: I have been pretty active publishing videos on Youtube. I have been on a “disaster preparedness” kick lately, storing food and gathering survival gear.. No, I am not paranoid.. Maybe my brain is telling me something, which it unconsciously computed from world news and personal observations, mainly “things aren’t going better..” So, I am merely following my intuitions and just taking a few basic precautions.. See my above Youtube channel about that.. You might want to do the same.. Overall, I plan on shaking things up a bit in 2012, as I have been a bit sluggish lately, you may have noticed..

Why am I writing about all this? I guess that since the things I like to do might be a bit unusual, I am hoping to provide from mere mild entertainment to useable good advise. I am curious by nature. It has prompted me to learn a lot of things, many useless, some potentially life-saving, and everything in between. I always liked to listen to what other people have to say, because we all have some interesting insights. By writing and making videos, I am giving back the same way I learn. By getting feedback and comments I also learn more about the things I am interested in. It’s an exchange of information. Not to mention metting interesting people with the same interests. Anyway, it’s time better spent than watching fail videos on Youtube.

Private Life: Should remain private.. Though I can say, everything is just dandy 🙂

I wish everyone a good Thanksgiving!


Little progress on the Hornet this month, but I did get some important parts. The Rotax 447 engine is being put back together and fortunately didn’t need any major repairs. It appears to have around 100Hrs, which is great news! I already spent $1500 in the engine ($1000 purchase, $500 parts and labor), there will be more.

Rotax 447

Rotax 447

Rotax 447

Rotax 447

The 40HP this engine delivers is the minimum for a gyroplane. A good propeller will either make or break the propulsion package. I plan on using a two-blade 64 to 66” wood propeller from Tennessee Propellers Inc.

I did manage to put the front wheel on, after much filing:

Hornet Front Wheel

Hornet Front Wheel

Also delivered yesterday was my carbon fiber seat from Sportcopter. To say it is light is an understatement: Less than 2Lbs! It could have been narrower by 4” however, and looks like it was built for the “New American,” a 400Lbs pilot. Price was $350 plus $126 shipping because of the bulk. Hard to swallow.. The most expensive ounces on an aircraft are those not there..

Carbon fiber seat

Carbon fiber seat

The weight savings will hopefully help me stay under the 254Lbs ultralight limit and use a drag racing fuel cell for a tank (8Lbs), as I hope, for safety reasons.

Next step will be getting the seat braces and landing gear parts, including the main wheels; next year!

Well, just when you thought I was too busy with P90X to do anything else.. Today I managed to bolt the first airframe parts of my Hornet Gyrocopter, and work on Dagny!

Hornet Gyro Airframe

Hornet Gyro Airframe

Also on the program was working on Dagny’s steel deck with a needle gun, then priming with POR15. It will be followed by two coats of Ameron Amerlock 400, then some garage floor epoxy I found at Home Depot. Larry helped me, but the area was so bad, we only managed to scrape and prime about 4-5 Sq.Ft. in three hours.. Next time I’ll use ear protection, I am deaf enough as it is!

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Tomorrow is Monday; back to the grind and P90X day 69, legs and back plus Ab-Ripper-X. I am having a hard time dropping the last few pounds of fat, but my arms are getting bigger and I can see my abs coming out. I have already decided to go for a second round.

I have been interested in gyroplanes since the 80s. I was flying ultralights at the time, and those machines seemed so nimble. I still want to build a CH-701 from a kit, but the total cost of the project would probably be around $30k. A single-seat gyroplane will set me back about $9k. So, I will apply the saying here “Go small, go now!” The two-seater airplane will have to wait a few years..

I chose a design based on a well known safe gyro, the Gyrobee. The new model, called a Hornet, has some improvements, including, and most importantly, a line of thrust aligned with the center of gravity. It also has a large horizontal stabilizer. Those two safety features, though the Gyrobee has a great reputation of stability, will make the Hornet even more stable. Hopefully, it will reduce the risk of bunt-over to near-zero. Bunts are what unrecoverable flat spins are to airplanes.. You make the wrong mistake and wham, lights out, forever. That is why I will also seek professional instruction, even though I know enough to take-off and fly around..

Here are the parts I am starting with:

Airframe Parts

Airframe Parts

I will describe the whole building process here, on the Rotary Forum.

If you are curious about the helicopter’s Grand-Daddy, keep reading…

Gyroplanes are probably the least known and most intriguing flying machines. Invented in 1923 by Juan de la Cierva, a Spanish civil Engineer and pilot, they are the precursor of the helicopter. The first gyroplanes, or autogiros, had an airplane fuselage with a rotor mounted on top of a mast. The engine and propeller were mounted forward, as on a regular airplane. The rotor blades are not powered by the engine, but spin freely. they must be pre-rotated before takeoff, either by hand or using a mechanical system. The propeller ensures forward movement.

The most famous gyroplane is without a doubt “Little Nellie,” piloted by Ken Wallis in the James Bond movie “You Only Live Twice.” There was one also in the Mad-Max movie “The Road Warrior.”

The early machines had an excellent safety record. A gyroplane can not stall like a fixed-wing aircraft. However, a gyro can’t hover without a strong enough head-wind, which prompted the development of the helicopter. These amazing machines faded out of our aviation landscape, and probably would have disappeared if it wasn’t for one Russian immigrant, Igor Bensen, who simplified the design in 1955 by reducing it to a keel tube and mast, with a pusher engine in the back and a seat up-front. Bensen created the Popular Rotorcraft Association (PRA) in 1962, and the aircraft made a huge comeback in the 70s and 80s.

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Unfortunately, people tend to modify designs, install bigger engines, and try new configurations. Many did not have Bensen’s understanding of the aerodynamics of rotorcrafts. Many of these machines did not have a horizontal stabilizer, and their high thrust-line above the center of gravity sometimes caused them to bunt-over. Pilots started dying, and the gyroplane developed a bad reputation. Today’s machines are much safer. Although much of them are based on the Bensen, a few went back to the tractor design of old days; notably the Little Wing models, which I find very attractive.

The Mecca of gyroplanes in the United States is in Wauchula Florida, where the Sunstate Wings & Rotors Club organizes the annual Bensen Days fly-in. That is where I met Joe Pires, a Bensen Days organizer who was kind enough to arrange a ride for me, and give me the information I needed for this article. Joe told me that the movement actually started in Immokalee Florida. When instructor Dave Seace left town for Wauchula, some followed, and the rest is history, as they say. Dave has trained a good number of pilots on his Dominator gyroplane, and I was eager to get a ride in his machine. The Wauchula airport welcomes gyroplanes, unlike many others, thanks to it’s manager, Jim Hay. About eight machines are based on the airport, in a hangar area called “Moron Ville,” name for which I didn’t get an explanation, but would probably be an interesting story. Around eighty five machines were parked on the tarmac, mostly Dominators from Rotor Fligh Dynamics, a few modified RAF-2000s, and numerous other designs such as the Monarch, Gyrobee, Sportcopter, to name a few. More are expected tomorrow, along with a few hundred visitors. Club President Scott Lewis also organizes fly-ins on the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve, though this week-end’s event is the largest.

A great gyro flying video by Shawn Adams
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