What future is there for autogyros?

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On their way out or in? What do people think?
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There is plenty of potential in Autogyros and they are certainly still being made. Perhaps a UAV autogyro powered by a small jet with some of the jet high pressure gas tapped off and piped into the rotor system to create a rotor tip jet propulsion to spin up the blades for a shorter takeoff run, or perhaps gearing from the engine to do the same would allow short takeoffs and the potential for low power cruising and low noise for observation flights. Potential also for UAV use too as it wouldn't need a long runway, esp with a partially powered rotor. http://www.pwgs.org/index1e.htm and scroll down to the IRKUT Corporations A-0002 lightweight Gyroplane video. Should add that one of the extra costs for UAVs is their limited lifespans, or takeoff and landing cycles compared with conventional aircraft that use runways. It might be more conventient to recover a UAV in a net or by parachute but it involves putting stresses on the UAV that normal aircraft don't endure meaning a UAV might only be good for 500 or 1,000 landings compared to 10,000 landings for a conventional landing UAV. Of course a conventional landing UAV takes up runway space and time and cannot be deployed to some areas leading to super large and super expensive extra long range UAVs that takeoff and land from normal runways but can loiter over the target area for long periods... but because they are based a long way from the target area they can take a while to get into position. Using an Autogyro for a UAV means that no parachute system is needed, nor is a significant runway as a short stretch of road or flat land free of rocks would suffice for takeoffs and landings.

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Auotgyros, with their performance and versatility, 'ought' to be bigger fish in the GA pond, but it is probable that their alarming accident rate ( per hours flown) puts off many potential autogyrators. Historically they have been mainly kit-built, and somehow rotor-based DIY aerial vehicles seem to have generated rather negative press, perhaps due to all the plummetting that has gone on. Even their best friends would have to concede that they are not particularly quiet ( noisy actually) and make leisurely progress (slow). They have had 40 years to catch on, but the whole scene remains something of an esoteric cult.
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I have (fortunately) only ever seen one aircraft crash in thirty-plus years of hanging around airfields and attending airshows. It was an autogyro. Moggy
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I have (fortunately) only ever seen one aircraft crash in thirty-plus years of hanging around airfields and attending airshows. It was an autogyro. Moggy
Moggy, would that be the 'Pee-Wee' Judge incident at Farnborough in 1970. That was the first airshow I attended - not a good introduction. Hated the pesky machines ever since, not surprised they haven't caught on.

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This could be a case of giving a dog a bad name. I've always thought that the type has punched well below its weight and really 'could do better' - but for the inconvenient fact that people tend to see them as a 'second rate helicopter'. As long as this perception lasts, autogyros will continue to be a case of potential unfulfilled.
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Moggy, would that be the 'Pee-Wee' Judge incident at Farnborough in 1970.
No, my airshow career has been unblemished by misfortune. It was a Saturday in 1995 at Enstone in Oxfordshire. Moggy
Even their best friends would have to concede that they are not particularly quiet ( noisy actually) and make leisurely progress (slow).
The autogyros that operate around here are very quiet... they use large low rev pusher propellers and normal aircraft type engines and are no more noisy on takeoff than the cessnas. Of course in flight they rely on their free spinning main rotors to remain airborne and can throttle their engines right back and make very little noise in normal level flight. If you get into trouble you can autorotate as with any helo...
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If you get into trouble you can autorotate as with any helo...
The one I saw autorotated like a brick. :eek: Moggy
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A friend was killed in his Benson-type in a classic PIO-chop off the tail mishap. It reminded me of all the horror stories I've read and they turned out too be true. Because eof my familiarity with rotors & such, I was asked to help the unit safety officer with his report. It was such a classic example of that type of mishap that the FAA asked for the wreckage to use at their crash-investagator school. On a happier note, there is a firm in the U.S. trying to reintroduce autogyros...the make nice turbine powered ships. But at $500,000 +, a bit too expensive for private use.

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A friend was killed in his Benson-type in a classic PIO-chop off the tail mishap. It reminded me of all the horror stories I've read and they turned out too be true. Because eof my familiarity with rotors & such, I was asked to help the unit safety officer with his report. It was such a classic example of that type of mishap that the FAA asked for the wreckage to use at their crash-investagator school. On a happier note, there is a firm in the U.S. trying to reintroduce autogyros...the make nice turbine powered ships. But at $500,000 +, a bit too expensive for private use.
Which firm is that? For sure, it sounds too steep to be for the private market... in which case it appears that someone does think there's a 'commercial' future for them...
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Which firm is that? For sure, it sounds too steep to be for the private market.
It's the Groen Brothers out of Salt Lake City. In addition to their high tech models, they do make small piston powered sport models which are affordable. Take a look at some of their proposals...they include bizjets and a firefighter with what looks like a Hercules fuselage. One of their turbine ships was used for security during the SLC Olympics... They seem to think there is a future in the type. http://www.groenbros.com/index.php

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If the Groen Brothers succeed, they'll break a losing streak. Since WW2, the FAA has certified only three gyroplanes: Umbaugh U-18/Air & Space 18A FlyMobil (USA) in 1961, Avian 2/180 (Canada) in 1967, and McCulloch J-2 (USA) around 1969. Now consider the output of these designs: FlyMobil: 1 U-17 prototype, 2 U-18 prototypes, 5 U-18 pre-production, and 68 18A production (some sources say 110), all by 1966. 2/180: 6, all prototypes or pre-production, last c. 1967. J-2: 83 production in 1969-1972 and at least 1 earlier prototype. That amounts to a grand total of 166 or 208; there are unconfirmed accounts of later FlyMobil production on a small scale, but that wouldn't alter the numbers very much. Granted, there were some mitigating factors. The FlyMobil was hobbled by a falling out between Umbaugh and Fairchild (who built the prototypes and preproduction machines) and Air & Space's financial problems. That story might have spooked potential investors in Avian. But the J-2 is a different story. It was a venture by the McCulloch who made chain saws and moved London Bridge to Arizona. It was marketed at a time when general aviation sales were booming, yet only 83 were built and sold. The best of luck to the Groens -- they'll need it.

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'D'ya wanna be in my gang? '

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One of the problem factors I have heard discussed in operating light gyroplanes is that of them generating pilot over-confidence. Like any aircraft they will bite if inadverently flown outside of their limits.

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There are one or two modern manufacturers of autogyros whose names escape me at the moment but they seem to be doing OK-ish. Can't vouch for the accuracy of that remark though as I don't have any details on sales figures.
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But the J-2 is a different story. It was a venture by the McCulloch who made chain saws and moved London Bridge to Arizona. It was marketed at a time when general aviation sales were booming, yet only 83 were built and sold. The best of luck to the Groens -- they'll need it.
There was a period (circa 1970) report in Flying magazine about the J-2. It cost about $30,000. At that time about the same as a nice new Cessna 172 and considerably more than a Cub. The author recognized the STOL attributes of the J-2 but found it compromised in terms of speed and payload compared to a fixed wing aircraft, and with a helicopter for its lack of VTOL capabilities. The article ended in with this statement. "For that money, I'd buy a Super Cub and take my change in Bensons". Nice ship though. There's one on display at the Pima Museum and I used to drive past a farm that had (parts of) two in a shed. If I could buy one today for $30,000 I'd consider it (providing spares are still available).
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It's the Groen Brothers out of Salt Lake City. In addition to their high tech models, they do make small piston powered sport models which are affordable. Take a look at some of their proposals...they include bizjets and a firefighter with what looks like a Hercules fuselage. One of their turbine ships was used for security during the SLC Olympics... They seem to think there is a future in the type. http://www.groenbros.com/index.php
If the CSAR program with DARPA succeeds it could have some potential. Too bad on the timing as the rotor concept they're working with would be a good fit for the US Army Joint Heavy Lift.

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Cartercopters is another American company developing the autogyro. They have done research into high speed gyros.Quite a sleek design by all accounts.
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Another bit of (fairly) useless information! (From Wikipedia) Autogyros are also known as gyroplanes, gyrocopters, or rotaplanes. When the term is spelled autogiro it is a trademark that can only be applied to products of the Cierva Autogiro Company or its licensees, and the name Gyrocopter was a trademark of the Bensen Company.

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It might be useless information PL but at least it is still on topic which is more than can be said for some of us :)