Recently, I was invited to enjoy an introductory gyrocopter flight. Because I never really understood what the light aircraft did, I decided to go for a gyrocopter flight to find out more. Usually flights last for around 30 minutes, but this particular flight turned into an epic adventure. The pilot of the gyrocopter best described the light aircraft as a superbike but in the sky. I laughed when I heard that description and after the flight he believed him to be not far off.
The flight departed from Aerosport in Durbanville. On arrival I completed the necessary paperwork to include an indemnity before making my way to admire the interesting aircraft. The pilot performed various pre-flight checks and then helped me to get comfortable with the head piece and helmet. The Gyrocopter really is quite a small, petite aircraft. There is very little room to move when you are locked in and ready to go. The confined space was almost enjoyable making you feel tight and snug as shelter from the wind.
When the gyrocopter took off, it felt similar to racing down the runway with Tom Cruise on a superbike with ‘high way to the danger zone’ playing in the background. Before I knew it we were airborne and off we went. Our route took in the best from Durbanville to Franschhoek and onwards to Robertson where we landed to refuel and then return via a shorter route. The flight was epic in every way. I can remember feeling extremely exposed to the elements. Flying at up to 4000 feet in a light jacket did cause a slight chill and after a while I couldn’t feel my fingers they were so numb. The aerial views where spectacular. We flew over farms, ranches, vineyards, large dams, villages and towns. We really did take in so much, it’s hardly imaginable. Some of the flight highlights for me would be the special manoeuvres one is able to do in the aircraft. We approached mountain ranges and then rose up and flew between the peaks, this was awe inspiring. Then lowered ourselves down the slopes and in alignment with the forests below. Low level flying is the best and the most dangerous resulting in great excitement and adrenaline! Both the pilot and myself had to watch for birds and electrical pylons. It was exciting to follow the direction of the river with the water below within what felt like touching distance, the gyrocopter really did feel like a superbike on top of water. When it came to landing it was fun to swoop and swirl at acute angles, feeling as though at any moment one could almost tip out of the gyrocopter, yet was perfectly safe.
The gyrocopter flight is truly unique, not only the aircraft but the flight experience as well. This experience is perfect for everyone and is completely safe. My only recommendation would be to wrap up really warm and bon voyage!
What exactly is a Gyrocopter? Wikipedia explains a Gyrocopter as follows –
An autogyro (from Spanish autogiro), also known as gyroplane, gyrocopter, or rotaplane, is a type of rotorcraft which uses an unpowered rotor in autorotation to develop lift, and an engine-powered propeller, similar to that of a fixed-wing aircraft, to provide thrust. While similar to a helicopter rotor in appearance, the autogyro’s rotor must have air flowing through the rotor disc in order to generate rotation. Invented by the Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva to create an aircraft that could safely fly at slow speeds, the autogyro was first flown on 9 January 1923, at Cuatro Vientos Airfield in Madrid. De la Cierva’s aircraft resembled the fixed-wing aircraft of the day, with a front-mounted engine and propeller in a tractor configuration to pull the aircraft through the air. Under license from Cierva in the 1920s and 1930s, the Pitcairn & Kellett companies made further innovations. Late-model autogyros patterned after Igor Bensen’s designs feature a rear-mounted engine and propeller in a pusher configuration. The term Autogiro was a trademark of the Cierva Autogiro Company, and the term Gyrocopter was used by E. Burke Wilford who developed the Reiseler Kreiser feathering rotor equipped gyroplane in the first half of the twentieth century. The latter term was later adopted as a trademark by Bensen Aircraft.
Written and experienced in person by Odette Butcher, Chief Experience Officer, Celestial Gift Experiences.
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