Perhaps you are already familiar with amatuer built or homebuilt kits or are completely new to the concept. This section will bring some pointers to consider when selecting a kit or set of plans. If you would like to check out the kits or plans first select the kits page and have fun checking out all of these fun aircraft. I would still recommend taking a brief look at this page and consider some of the items presented before dedicating yourself entirely to a particular project. In the meantime, let's continue on our gyroplane journey.
Wouldn't we all like to travel at mach 3+ in a SR-71? Practically though we would not be able to afford the aircraft, fuel, maintenance, and I have no idea if you could get insured. Another aspect is even if we were able to afford it, would we have the training and skills to safely fly it?
A gyroplane is in no way anything close to being a "Blackbird" but a gyroplane does require it's own specific set of skills to fly and maintain. The skills are not exceedingly difficult but keep in mind a gyroplane is not a helicopter and it is not an airplane. In regards to flying, a gyroplane in general, is not as demanding as say a Robinson helicopter but does require more attention and some different skills than your typical Cessna 152. A gyroplane like any other aircraft has limitations, and certain maneuvers which should be avoided, if limitations are exceeded bad things tend to happen usually fast and very unforgivenly. The point of this mumbo jumbo is most gyroplane kits are priced at a rate that most people can afford (not a bad thing) and they tend to have low operating and maintenance costs when compared to certificated aircraft (again, not a bad thing) but is this the right aircraft for you? I can go on for a long time on the positive points of owning and operating and building your own gyroplane but it can be rather easy to get caught up in the adventure and excitement of this unique vehicle. I highly recommend that during your evaluation process and you become serious about selecting a particular gyroplane to take a flight in the gyroplane type with a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) or exempted instructor before you buy. The cost of the flight is minimal compared to the time and money invested in the overall commitment to any type of kit whether it is a plane, helicopter or gyroplane.
Gyroplanes come in many styles, shapes, tractor and pusher propellers, single and dual place. Some are slightly faster or slower than others are but generally all fly at about the same airspeed. The largest difference that is usually found between kit types is gross weight and useful load. Construction is pretty straightforward and it is common to get very good results by following the instructions provided by the kit manufacturer. So how would it feel to have the wind in your face or maybe an enclosed cabin with heat while flying over snow covered fields? These are decisions only you can make. To help in your selection I have included a few more pointers to help in your selection.
1. Your first question should be what will I be using the aircraft for?
a. Cross country flying.
b. Survey work.
d. Air photography.
f. Sport pilot.
g Recreational or weekend flying.
2. Does the gyroplane have the performance required for the type of flying that I intend to use it for?
d. Cross country comfort.
f. Weight capability.
3. Based off of the first two questions you have most likely narrowed your search to a few models now comes the kick in the pants. Can I afford it?
A lot of expense comes with any aircraft, outside of the kit itself. Besides radios, transponders, paint, fuel, oil, repair parts, time replacement parts, you will need to consider some other associated costs. Some costs that may not come directly to mind are such things as insurance, taxes, and even training costs. Be honest with yourself, your mission and the kit coupled with your available funds and your build and gyroplane flying willbe all the more enjoyable and an aircraft selection you can take pride in.
4. Which kit?
Well if you haven't already been looking, now is the time to start. There are many to choose from and it is all a personal preference. The greatest asset for the builder by far is support from the kit manufacturer. I don't care what your experience level, mechanical ability or how many kits you have made, questions will arise. The larger (or more established) and more available your support team is, the easier and faster your build will be. So get looking, they all open the door to a great gyroplane adventure. See kits page.
5. Direct Operating Costs (DOC's)?
Direct operating costs are things like fuel consumption, replacement parts-sceduled, maintenance and repair cost, oil. This is usually factored on a per hour cost. For example the "Whopperdugal Special" has a DOC of $30.00 per hour. Not all manufacturers may provide this information but you can figure it out pretty close for yourself if you use an example from any certificated aircraft DOC's and then ask your kit manufacturer similar type questions as the data presented in the certificated aircrafts DOC's. This is a rather small matter in regards to gyroplanes but worth checking on so you know what you are getting yourself into. It will certainly make you feel better if you compare your DOC's to what our helicopter and fixed wing brothers will likely be paying for that same hour of flight.
6. Can I fly it?
I really hope you will take my advise and go for an introductory flight in your future dream ship. This flight can answer many questions and more importantly give you an idea of the amount of flight training you will likely need. No big deal if you have a bit of trouble on the first go. Just please be honest with yourself and get the training you need to be safe for you and your passengers. Momma is not gonna be happy if you get killed or take her with you in your new gizmo on a trip to the hospital!
7. Can I build it?
I would like to emphasize that for anyone who has worked with hand tools and can read this it is not as difficullt as you may make it out to be. I do realize that there are people though that just have never- done that. For those of you in this situation you have two options. The first option is to get the skills at places like Airventure at Oshkosh or Sun & Fun at the forums and workshops or get one already assembled.
In the case of building I would recommend using the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) technical counsler at your local EAA Chapter to help give you guidance through your build and to bring in an extra set of eyes.
If you decide to buy versus build you again have two options. You can buy a sport pilot gyroplane or buy a kit that someone else already built. If looking at the later I agasin recommend having a technical counslor or previous builder of the kit to look over the records and aircraft before you inherit someone else's problems.
Review the kits as often as you want and be sure to ask all the questions you want to the kit manufacturers. There are several books available that adress points to consider when selecting a homebuilt project.
If you really have a Wright Brothers type itch see the plans page.
Now that you have accessed your kit and are ready to put some money down. Let's look at what to prepare for before the large wooden boxes arrive at the front door. See Preparations page.
Conklin & de Decker