About Gyroplanes

They are called gyro"planes" but look like helicopters. So what exactly are Gyroplanes?

Gyroplane History

Gyroplanes were invented in the 1920s, almost 20 years before Helicopters.

They proved very effective in carrying mail around the USA landing in very small spaces including the top of the Pan Am skyscraper in New York and the White House lawn in Washington. The Royal Air Force had three squadrons at the start of WW2.

Are Gyroplanes helicopters?

The major difference between helicopters and gyroplanes is expense! It is said that gyroplanes have 90% of the helicopter’s capability for 10% of the cost. This may be an exaggeration as a gyro is unable to hover, unless the wind is very strong, and it is unable to lift loads the way a helicopter does, however the price of purchase and ongoing operation are significantly different. The major technical difference is that the rotors of a gyroplane in flight are not driven by the engine but by the wind. A Helicopter blade is driven to force air downwards, hold onto your hat if the rotors are turning, a gyroplane rotor blade when turning creates lift from the air passing over it just like a fixed wing aircraft; there is no downdraught. The Gyroplane rotorblades must be started turning by hand or by a mechanical means until they start to act as aerofoils. Then either wind or the aircraft moving forward will keep the blades turning. Should a helicopter have an engine failure the pilot must quickly change the angle of the rotor blades and disconnect the engine drive to turn the machine into a gyroplane and glide to a landing; the angle is quite steep due to the heavier weight of the helicopter compared with a gyroplane.