2 seat gyro types rarely flown in the U.K.

The Parsons (this one has a Rotax 532)

a Parsons 532 trainer


Air Command 532 Elite (side by side)

an Air Command 532 Elite (2 seat side by side)

 

Unfortunately the Air Command story in the U.K. has not been a happy one. They were first imported into the U.K. in 1988 and almost immediately the death rate amongst gyro pilots went from virtually nil to being quite unacceptably high, practically all of these being as a result of pilots flying the Air Commands. There has obviously been enormous speculation as to why so many deaths occurred. Theories range from : the power to weight ratio being too high with the power band on the 532 engines coming in with a sudden rush rather than smoothly (so they tell me - I've never flown on a 532 engined gyro) [most of the deaths were on 532 engined Air Commands]. Another theory is that the heavy, slow turning McCutchen rotor can result in problems sometimes if there is a combination of a very light weight gyro and pilot beneath this rotor. In 1991 the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued a Temporary Suspension Order on all Air Commands 'Permits-To-Fly'. This lasted for several years while the causes for this disproportionate number of deaths was investigated. A number of changes were recommended and Air Command owners who have made these mandatory modifications have now been allowed to fly their aircraft again. Sadly, one of the first pilots to carry out the modifications and regain his Permit-To-Fly died in an accident at a gyro rally. We cannot all be hopeless pilots over here, but until a satisfactory explanation is provided you won't get me flying one!

Only a very small number of Air Commands are now flying in the UK - almost exclusively in the North of the country. Owners find it very difficult to sell their gyros and most are broken up for their engines, rotor and other component parts.

Air Commands are probably the most popular gyro types in the world today, being sold almost everywhere. Unfortunately, 99% of the UK gyro community rather wish that they had passed this country by! The gyro movement have yet to recover from the unfortunate events of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Further bad news - 02 February 1999 : The UK's Popular Flying Association Chief Engineer sent a letter to the British Rotorcraft Association saying ". . . The situation with the Air Command gyroplanes at present is that the CAA have decided not to issue Permits to Fly on these machines. This descision has been reached as a result of concerns over the high accident rate with the type, coupled with the results of research carried out by Glasgow University which suggested that the stability and handling of the Air Command may be unsatisfactory as it nears the edge of its flight envelope."

There is no longer a UK agent for Air Command gyros, but you can find out more about them at the Air Command website.

 


Air & Space 18A

an Air & Space 18A

"The 18a used to belong to my father, who was partners with Don Farrington
in America. I can remember flying in to Battersea Heliport in it!!!"

Part of an e-mail sent to me by Chris de Vere, a visitor to this website. For those of you that do not know it - Battersea Heliport is a very busy rooftop helipad in central London!


McCullough J2

a McCullough J2


The Rolls Royce powered Campbell Cougar, 1973.

temporary photo of the Campbell Cougar.

Monny Curzon flying the Campbell Cougar.

photo by Peter Lovegrove

The top photo was taken with my digital camera from an old postcar - sorry about the quality. Now that my scanner is working again I've mislaid the postcard!

Being flown by Monny Curzon a couple of days before he flew it to France to display it at the Paris Airshow in 1973. This is the Campbell 2seater gyro that never was! This prototype was actually built as a single seater, with the idea that the second seat could easily be added if it performed well and there proved to be a likely market for such a 2 seater. Designed by Peter Lovegrove, the aircraft flew very well after early problems were sorted out (the 'all-up' weight was 1020lbs - 462.7kg). Despite considerable interest around the world no orders were ever placed, so the project's Australian and South African sponsers decided to abort the project. The aircraft now resides at The International Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare, UK. It was seeing this gyro there 'for real' that started off my own love of gyro flying - it is therefore very special to me!!

All the photographs of aircraft shown in this page (gyro7), except for the Campbell Cougar were kindly provided by Roger Light who has the most amazing photographic/details records of every gyro that has ever existed in the UK - far better than the CAA's own records! If anyone would like details of any British gyros he has told me that they would be welcome to contact him at 28 Empress Drive, Heaton Norris, Stockport, SK4 2RW, UK. Telephone +44 (0)161 432 7437.


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gyro photos taken while filming for TV series

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single seat gyro types commonly flown in the UK (Cricket types, Bensen, Montgomerie Bensen)

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single seat gyro types rarely flown in the UK (Wombat, KB2, Air Command, Hornet, McCandless, etc.)

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2 seat gyro types commonly flown in the UK (VPM M16, RAF2000)

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2 seat gyro types rarely flown in the UK

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interesting projects going on

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