Before I began my gyro journey, I deeply researched their history.
The original "Cierva-type" gyros - which had the prop at the front - were the safest
things ever to fly, just as Cierva intended. It was a decade before the first fatality occurred, and that was a stupid Frenchman who ignored instructions, and took off with the control-locks engaged.https://archive.org/details/Flight_Inte ... 5/mode/2up
They were really graceful machines, for a time delivering mail from rooftops in the US.
[some DC-2 FW shots in this beautiful colour film from 1939 - then...magic !
The gyro pilot Johnny Miller only died fairly recently, aged 102]
It was calculated that fixed-wing GA in the US/UK did not reach the safety levels of these early autogyros until the mid-1970s....another fifty
years...[source: Cierva Autogiros: The Development of Rotary-wing Flight, by Peter W. Brooks, 1988]
But by that time the original gyros had long been eclipsed by the helicopter, at the price of huge complexity not to mention $$$$ to own and run them. But the military have deep pockets... The helicopter is a fundamentally unstable machine, whereas the properly-designed
gyro is fundamentally stable
After the war, some enterprising Americans tried to revive the almost-forgotten "Cinderella" gyro machine. Their marketing spiel
was that the machine was so simple and so safe that it would be possible to knock one up from a kit in your garage, and effectively teach yourself to fly. They also redesigned them, moving the prop from the front to the back, while remaining blissfully ignorant of the aerodynamic forces
The outcome was predictable
and tragic... The gyro went from being the safest machine to a "flying coffin" in a matter of years, and in this country they were effectively grounded.
One or two enthusiasts managed to keep the dream alive and continue unscathed. Wing-Commander Wallis was still flying his creations at the age of 96 !!
After an infamous fatal accident in 1970 at Farnborough, a brilliant engineer from Finland figured out what the problem was, and a simple, effective
solution - the addition of a horizontal stabiliser ! https://www.tervis.fidisk.fi/JTsite/saf ... afety.html
There is no doubt that Jukka Tervamäki is the true father of the "modern generation" gyrocopter.
His streamlined, enclosed JT-5
from 1973 is spookily prophetic of the Calidus
, which appeared nearly 40 years later... http://www.buildagyrocopter.com/jukka-t ... -autogyro/19732009
Unfortunately, he came up against vested interests who turned a deaf ear, pilots continued to die, and he eventually left gyros behind, selling his plans to an Italian engineer, Vittorio Magni.
Magni slowly built a business selling factory-built, precision-engineered "modern generation" gyrocopters, from the 1990s onwards, but it was not until 2004, when the German company AutoGyro-GmbH
entered the scene that the new machines really "took off" in numbers. AutoGyro-GmbH
(branded in the UK as Rotorsport UK
) are now the world's largest manufacturer, followed by Magni-Gyro
and the Spanish ELA-Aviación
(not available in the UK). Smaller companies seem to be springing up yearly around the world, all cloning the same basic design. There are probably more than 5,000 of these machines now flying worldwide.
The second critical
factor was improvement in training, and the person who dedicated his life to that is UK-based Dr. Phil Harwood of the IAPGT, whose mission is to identify and promote a "best-practice", worldwide standard for gyroplane flying. https://www.iapgt.org/
It is a startling fact
that fully two-thirds of the fatal accidents in the "Big-Three" modern machines mentioned above have occurred in just THREE countries. France, Spain and South Africa. I put this down to a combination of regulatory, environmental and even cultural deficiencies. From my research, I have no doubt that the UK is now the safest country in the world in which to fly gyros. We have had just three fatalities, none
of which was really the fault of the gyro...
Elsewhere...? "gyros don't kill people - people
kill gyros" https://www.saflyermag.com/single-post/ ... yros-Crash
The majority of accidents in the UK are due to pilots - often former fixed-wing pilots - having brain farts during take-off, or landing. Remember
"gyros - safe in the air, vulnerable on (or near) the ground
!", and "you don't stop flying until the rotors are stopped!" and you are unlikely to have a bingle....
Happily these accidents usually involve no more than hurt pride, and a destroyed machine, but explains why insurance premiums remain high. The IAPGT is currently running a project with the insurers aiming to reduce insurance costs.
Open-cockpit gyro flying is probably the closest to flying, and landing, like a bird
. Nothing like it !
Agility, Visibility, Stability, Controllability. Grace...
Time to get your gyro grin ?
[ALWAYS GET PROPER TRAINING FROM AN INSTRUCTOR]https://gyroexaminers.uk/