The Gyrocopter – Technical Information


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A Gyrocopter is a rotating wing aircraft similar to a helicopter, the difference being that unlike a helicopter’s rotor which is powered by an engine, the gyrocopter’s rotor is spun by the oncoming airflow of the aircraft. This is caused by a specific application of the rotor blades (autorotation). Updraught is created by the relative motion of the rotor blades in relation to the surrounding air – as is the case with a helicopter. The propulsion is generated by a propeller engine – as with a fixed wing aircraft.


A Gyrocopter is ideal for slow speed film photography as there is no need for having to take off and land in a vertical manner. Other advantages incorporate its high stability and durability, its low costs in production and maintenance, its light weight, the minimal space required and its little susceptibility to windy conditions. Gyrocopters are economical and therefore optimal for flight photography as costs play a decisive role.


Safety and Stability
As the rotor is set in motion exclusively by the airflow chances for mechanical malfunction are minimal and there is no need for complicated gearing. Not even a power failure or a complete engine failure would put the pilot in a critical situation as the Gyrocopter works on autorotation and therefore controlled landing is manageable. Gyrocopters have no minimum operating speed which means they don’t run risk in coming to a standstill.


The Mechanics of a Gyrocopter
Power and motion are generated by a piston engine and a propeller. The rotor is attached to a mast. An adjustable hinge that allows different angles onto the rotor when in the air is the main characteristic of a Gyrocopter. A gyrating disc is dispensable. To be able to change direction the entire rotor can be swung. Additionally a rudder is used to steer with. Due to the low speed a fixed landing gear arrangement is used generally. Closed cockpits are rare. Some models use additional wing arrangements.


Gyrocopters only need very short runways, from a few meters to about 150m, and therefore belong to the STOL aircraft class. Landing strips range between 10 and 20m. When it is necessary to adapt to shorter runways the rotor is brought up to take-off speed by the engine.


Autorotation
Is created when the airflow over a rotor aircraft causes free rotation of the actual rotor. The rotor blades use the force of the airflow to generate updraught, much like with a fixed-wing aircraft.The gyrocopter uses a non-powered rotor instead of fixed-wings to create updraught. Propulsion is created by engine and propeller.