Whether you call it a gyrocopter, a gyroplane, an autogyro or even an autogiro, these agile flying machines are a great way to get airborne. Yes, they might look a tad fragile, but actually these rugged and very stable aircraft are easy to fly and very agile, enabling you take control on your very first flight.
We've got gyrocopter lessons at locations dotted around the country, at some great clubs and training schools. This form of flight is becoming increasingly popular, especially given how cost-effective gyrocopters are compared to other aviation experiences. So if you've tried the rest, isn't it time you took to the skies in a funky little autogyro? Read more...
• Fly open cockpit gyros from Rochester Airport Kent • All aircraft are dual-controlled & tandem seating • Experience the phenomenon of autorotation • You have the chance to sit up front if you want to
• Flights in a gyroplane from Melbourne Airfield • See the East Yorkshire countryside from the air • Lessons with David Beevers, expert gyroplane pilot • Fly in a side-by-side Magni 24 enclosed gyrocopter
The most famous gyrocopter in the world has to be Little Nellie as seen in the James Bond film 'You Only Live Twice'. Often mistakenly described as a mini-helicopter, this machine was designed and built by Ken Wallis, who also acted as Sean Connery's stunt pilot in the 1967 film. We all loved watching Bond whizz through the skies in his heavily-armed gyro that was shipped by Q in just four suitcases!
How does an autogyro actually fly?
Nothing quite so surreal as that on these gyrocopter lessons, but the basic science bit of how these fly is still the same. There's an engine-powered propellor on the rear, with rotor blades that sit above your head. Unlike a chopper, these blades are not engine-driven, they self-rotate as air passes over them, hence the 'auto' bit in autogyro. And they are not be confused with microlights, which can look similar, but of course have wings and not blades.
All this clever aviation engineering means the craft can land in incredibly small spaces - creator Wallis said a 'small putting green would do’. And interestingly, it can actually fly slower and lower than many other light aircraft, which is actually quite a feat. This all adds up to a rather unique aerial experience for anyone who is game enough to give open-cockpit flying a go.
Ah yes. We should mention that bit. These wee flying machines are nothing like your typical plane. It could be described as being like a flying trike. You are open and exposed to the elements in most, hence why you need to get nicely wrapped up in a proper flying suit and gloves for your flight. It's also pretty noisy, so a helmet with integrated intercom is a must too, to be able to communicate with your instructor pilot who will be sitting behind you (it's a tandem configuration).
New generation closed-cockpit gyrocopters
Having said all that, there are increasing numbers of new generation gyros that are fully enclosed. The little cabin is rather snug, but it does mean you are protected from the wind a lot more. And you have the advantage of a side by side cockpit, so you can sit next to your pilot and learn and awful lot by watching what they are doing as they fly.
Whichever gyrocopter you choose to fly in, you can be sure of an incredible experience. You’ll be flying fast, slow, low and high, pulling some tight turns and even hovering in these brilliant little machines. And it's all thanks to that former Royal Air Force Wing Commander called Ken Wallis and a certain secret agent!