Gyroplanes are a class of airplanes approved by the FAA
(Federal Aviation Administration). They are often referred to as
gyrocopters or autogyros. Many gyros are small single place open frame
affairs that are like flying motorcycles. In the past most of these
were classed as ultralights not requiring a regular pilot's license but with
the new (2004) FAA regulations most small gyros will be considered sport
planes requiring a new simplified sports pilot license.
My gyro is a heavier two place machine and for me to fly it
and carry passengers I need a regular pilot's license.
Like nearly all gyroplanes mine was made from a kit.
It was originally built by my friend Terry Eiland who is a gyroplane flight
instructor (CFI) in Florida. Most airplanes you see from Boeing
767's to Cessna 152's are "certificated" which means the FAA has scrutinized
every phase of the plane's design and construction.
However there is another category of planes known as
"experimental." This means the plane was built by an individual rather
than a certified factory. Experimental aircraft are sometimes built
just from drawings but most are sold as kits by manufacturers who do some of
the work for you. Despite the name most "experimental" airplanes are
well proven designs and quite safe. In many
cases there are hundreds of a particular design flying.
Make sure to visit our
Questions & Answers page to learn more about gyros and how they fly.