In praise of au­t­o­gy­ros


Your flight test on the Au­t­o­gyro Cavalon in June’s Pilot was very in­for­ma­tive but con­tained some state­ments that need to be chal­lenged to give a bal­anced view of au­t­o­gy­ros com­pared to other air­craft types be­ing flown in the UK. An au­t­o­gyro is a safe and low cost way to fly for any pilot trained on type.

Au­t­o­gy­ros are no more dif­fi­cult to fly than other civil­ian air­craft types — just ask any au­t­o­gyro pilot with fixed-wing ex­pe­ri­ence. Or ask any au­t­o­gyro pilot with ro­tary-wing ex­pe­ri­ence and they are likely to say get­ting a PPL(H) is harder be­cause of the recog­nised com­plex­ity of a he­li­copter’s flight con­trols with stick, rud­der and col­lec­tive-pitch lever with a twist-grip throt­tle on the end of it.

An au­t­o­gyro uses well proven, eas­ily un­der­stood prin­ci­ples of aero­dy­nam­ics which de­liver its dif­fer­ent flight char­ac­ter­is­tics. They are the safest sin­gle en­gine air­craft in the sky be­cause, in the event of en­gine fail­ure, the un-pow­ered ro­tor disc con­tin­ues to pro­vide lift from the air be­low still pass­ing up­wards through it. Your read­ers will know the ef­fects of an en­gine fail­ure, and the im­me­di­ate ac­tions needed in other sin­gle-en­gine air­craft types. With no en­gine power an au­t­o­gyro can make a nor­mal ap­proach at 65mph to a suit­able land­ing area and be brought to a stop in a very short dis­tance by ap­ply­ing rear­ward pres­sure on the stick, which makes the ro­tor disc a very ef­fi­cient air­brake. It’s just one of the au­t­o­gyro’s dif­fer­ent de­sign char­ac­ter­is­tics. Gra­ham Storey, West Malling Nick Bloom replies: I found the air­craft a plea­sure to fly and easy to fly in for­ma­tion. But the CAA is in­sist­ing that pi­lots who are al­ready fully qual­i­fied take a full PPL(G) course, so per­haps they feel that au­t­o­gy­ros are dif­fi­cult to fly in some way that I per­son­ally didn’t en­counter.

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