A gyrocopter, also known as an autogyro, is an unusual aircraft usually classified as homebuilt or experimental. As such, it is something you can build yourself. Someone with prior experience in building aircraft might be able to work from just plans, which are available on the Internet, but most people will want to work from a kit, which as of the time of publication, can cost $8,000 and up. Even with a complete kit, assembly will likely take weeks or months.
Research available kits online and through magazine articles. Be sure to select one suitable for your intended purpose, whether it is cross-country flying, aerial photography or agricultural use.
Calculate your anticipated normal payload. Figure the weight of the pilot, any passenger, cargo or special equipment. Be certain the kit you are considering matches your load needs.
Prepare your work space. It should be large, at least the size of a garage; covered; and uncluttered. It should have an ample power supply as you will need good lighting and plugs for power tools. If your kit comes with video instructions, you'll also need a television and media player.
Keep a detailed log of each step you take in constructing your aircraft, including photographs of your work. This is required by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Inspect your kit when it arrives to make sure all parts are there. Contact the company if anything is missing.
Study the instructions carefully and make sure you have all needed tools before beginning.
Read each step twice and test fit parts before tightening connections and making permanent attachments. Having to undo things is time consuming and risks breaking valuable pieces.
Things You'll Need
- Gyrocopter kit
- Tools specified in kit instructions
- Work space
You should receive gyrocopter training before attempting to fly your aircraft. Not all gyrocopters require a pilot's license, but for most you will need a license of some sort. Check with the FAA for exact regulations.
Carefully inspect every aspect of your aircraft before trying to take it up, and do all preflight checks. Initial flying should probably be low-level and low-speed until you are confident your gyrocopter is performing correctly.
Tad Cronn is a professional journalist living in Los Angeles. His columns have appeared in the "Los Angeles Daily News," the "Seattle Post-Intelligencer," the "Orange County Register" and other publications. He is an award-winning illustrator, author of "The Lynx," and an experienced handyman, model builder and gamer.