Introduction to Ultralight Aviation

What Else?

1. Visit GyroNation. It's a cool site, regardless the old-fashioned look. Classifieds, info, community, everything about gyroplanes can be found there.

2. There is a good discussion going right under the article. Feel free to add your questions or comments. If you have a Facebook account we can discuss thing about autogyros on our page there as well.

3. If the day you'll fly an autogyro is far away you can have some fun with a model gyrocopter. I know it's not the real thing but still may be fun.

4. Why don't you get a gyrocopter t-shirt?

Gyrocopters - What Are They And Can You Have One?

The gyrocopters (known also as gyroplanes or autogyros) are quite an unusual kind of aircraft. They look similar to helicopters but by the construction and the way of flying they are more similar to the airplanes. This Wikipedia article explains shortly the difference between autogyro and helicopter:

"While a helicopter's rotor is rotated by an engine during normal flight, the rotor of an autogyro is driven by aerodynamic forces in autorotation.""

You can read the entire article if you are interested in the technical side of the things. What I want to discuss here is different - are gyrocopters interesting for ultralight pilots, i.e. for you? Should you look for gyrocopter kits or gyrocopter plans online? The short answer is yes.

There are also ultralight gyrocopters which look similar to the ultralight helicotpers - simple construction with minimum overload, sometimes no cockpit and no fancy stuff at all.

Photo by pilot_micha at flickr

Can You Own A Gyrocopter?

First, why would you want to own a gyrocopter instead of an ultralight helicopter? The gyrocopters are not for everyone's taste - they combine the advantages of fixed wing aircraft and rotorcraft but can't compete with both on any of these advantages. Said simpler, the gyrocopters need much shorter landing field than the fixed wing airplanes, but at the same time are not as fast as most of them. One autogyro is for sure cheaper to operate than a helicopter but doesn't have the same ability for precise vertical landing and take off. However the gyroplanes fly a bit faster than helicopters.

You see, it's just an unusual animal about which you have to decide yourself - whether you like it or not.

But if you like it, is there a chance to own a personal gyrocopter? Absolutely yes! In most countries the gyrocopters are flown with experimental/homebuilt or ultralights license if such is needed - so if you can fly another ultralight or microlight aircraft, you should be able to own an autogyro too.

The price of personal autogyros can be quite affordable but it depends on whether you are going to buy a ready one or build your gyrocopter yourself.

Gyroctoper Kits And Gyrocopter Plans

The most popular way of obtaining a gyrocopter is by building it from a gyrocopter kit. The gyrocopter kits are sold between $7,000 - $8,000 and $25,000 - $30,000 - at least those that I have seen (You can find some kits here). Before buying an autogyro kit ask the seller if their kits are certified and who uses them. Gyroplanes are less popular than other aircraft and there is in general less information about the manufacturers, so you will need to research more yourself.

Building a gyrocopter from a kit takes few months and follows the same logic as building an ultralight airplane. And as you guessed, you can build an ultralight experimental gyrocopter yourself by using only gyrocopter plans.

Because of the lower popularity of the autogyros it's much harder to find good gyrocopter plans than good ultralight airplane plans. One of the popular models is Benson Gyrocopter but its plans are not sold on any official site - just "by hand". One cheap autogyro can be build from the plans at Vortech Online although I have no information how good it is. For sure it seems to be a nice and really budget solution.

If you are selling gyrocopter plans, please contact us or comment here to let us know.

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Post Your Comment

User comments:

Gary at Dec, 27 '08 02:12
I was watching Smithsonian channel today re: smallest aircraft & saw this gyro-plane idea which fascinated me. It's maybe possible that a detail-moron like myself can fly AND not kill myself... as the thing 'floats' down if the engine dies (or if I 'forgot' something) Hey...That's for me! save up ten grand and find a big garage and have time to build it....hmmmmmm
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Bob at Dec, 29 '08 17:49
Being able to fly even with a dead engine is one of the things that interest me as well, Gary :) But I would keep a parachute with me just in case.
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FLY FLY GUY at Oct, 26 '09 20:53
Hello! Please take lessons! You can get plans, and you can be VERY tempted to take your kit and try to learn to fly it on your own. Please do not.. as you can hurt yourself or worse. Join your local chaper of PRA i.e. Popular Rotor Assoc. for information and school options. Please do not try to do this on your own as you will meet GOD face to face. Gyros are not like aiplanes and being a pilot will only tempt you to try flying the gyro on your own even more.
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John Pridemore at Mar, 06 '10 20:44
do you need a pilots license
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Justin Scott at May, 10 '10 14:43
In most cases, yes. The general rule is that if a vehicle is meant to fly through the air, it and its pilot need to be certificated by the FAA (at least, in the United States). You'll want to look at the Federal Aviation Regulations (Chapter 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, or 14 CFR), Parts 61 (certification of airmen) and Part 91 (general operating rules). Even solo skydivers have to be certificated. Gyroplane pilots are no exception.
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Paul at Jul, 24 '10 13:17
If they are built light enough, autogyros can be flown as an ultralight and under FAR 103, require no license.
Good plans are for sale from the website They are old and well proven gyros.

I agree with FLY GUY, you should take lessons, and or get certified.
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Blackhawk Chief at Aug, 12 '10 10:53
I second that!!! Before I joined the Army I did a ton of research on these and I will have one someday soon. They have one of the safest glide ratio, eg how many feet down versus forward, when the engine quits. I think the Air Force called it the X-25 and at that time one of the most agile aircraft they have flown. I'm a retired Blackhawk Helicopter Instructor Pilot and I will take lessons for this type of flight. Most deaths from this aircraft is from not following instructions on assembly and people strapping this thing to their back without taking any form of instruction.
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ole solvsten at Jan, 21 '11 15:52
would it be possible to fit pontoons to a gyro and land and take off safely on water as well as land considering the light weight of the gyro and the extra drag of the water surface?
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Robert at May, 21 '11 22:47
Yes, Ole, you can have aquatic gyrocopters. See this clip on YouTube (WKD-zf41xQA)

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Chris at Aug, 24 '11 10:03
Yes I am going to say if you don't get some training you will roll the gyro and have spent some 8 to 12 thousand buck for nothing. Even if your aircraft falls to one side you are looking at spending 4 grand to get it back up.
I have my own and after 8 hour of training I was still not sure if I could fly mine. But once I had 14 hours I started going up and down the run way on my own learning to balance on 2 wheels. I end up wearing out 2 sets of tire on that 1 mile runway before I ever came off the ground.
But it is the most fun a person can have.

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Chris at Aug, 24 '11 10:13
Oh I forgot to say the instructor will teach you what to do than the engine shuts off I don't think you will be able to teach your self that. Just makes cents. to spend a few dollars.
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AJAY at Sep, 01 '11 12:08
hey Chris we are planning to construct a Gyrocopter as our major Engineering project could you please help me in some technical specifications of the gyrocopter.If possible will you please mail me the specification and design of the gyrocopter to the undersigned address

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Zulian at Feb, 17 '12 08:24
Can you offer me a list of autogyro's manufacturers? Thanks a lot!~~
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Zulian at Feb, 17 '12 08:29
Can you offer me a list of names and addresses of all the autogyro's manufacturers in the U.S.A? Thanks a lot!
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Dave Borcher at Mar, 14 '12 16:45
Actually, solo skydivers do NOT have to be certified by FAA. Their equipment does. The aircraft they jump from does, and the pilot in command of the aircraft does. But any fool that wants to can jump out of a perfectly good airplane... I did it a few more than 2000 times. But without adequate training you'd be more likely to meet God face-to-face than otherwise.
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Cy at Jan, 25 '13 18:32
I've looked into all types of ultralights and for me the gyrocopter is the way to go for recreational flying and just getting out and having fun. It can't stall and cuts right thru a gust of wind that would other wise toss around a winged aircraft. If the engine ever goes out you can easily coast to the ground and take your time while doing it. They appear to be much safer than anything else.
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Mike at Jul, 09 '13 03:54
Cy, you need to take lessons before trying to fly one of these things. Gyrocopters are very sensitive to control input and it's very, very easy to over-control one of them. Far too often, the results of "novice over-control" are over-stressing structural components, broken parts and possibly augering in.

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Cameron at Dec, 04 '13 01:55
When I was living in Houston TX, my roommate's girlfriend's father came from FL to visit. He was an engineer for Sikorsky helicopters. I had the plans tacked on the wall. He looked at them & said, "Do not deviate from these plans!" Lack of money & a transfer ended my plan of flying my own gyro, but the idea still interests me some.
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Cy at Feb, 13 '14 02:19
Sign me up!
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Cy at May, 17 '14 21:09
Yes, for certain Mike I'd would go thru the training. Would love to get that someday. The only thing that concerns me about Gyros is the pivot bolt that holds the rotor to the rest of the craft. From the research I've done those bolts aren't very big in diameter though they are aircraft grade. Still I wish they were bigger.

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Ty at Jun, 13 '14 04:22
I'm really interested in learning to fly these and possibly owning one someday.... But it is super hard to find information on where to get lessons and what to read up on or practice, etc.... Does anybody know where I can find something to study online or a certain book that actually teaches you rather than telling me everything but how to run one....? I would really appreciate it! Thanks if you do! PS I live in Nebraska, if there's a place I can go somewhere around the state or adjacent states, that would be great too.
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