I discovered gyros back in 2000 when I went to the Sun-n-Fun Air Show in Lakeland, FL. I went for a ride with Rusty Nance and I was hooked. At the time I wasn't in a position to pursue getting one so I started researching them and started going to a large annual gyro flyin in Wauchula, FL - "Bensen Days". I tried to go for rides every time I attended the flyins to keep my dream alive.
A gyro is kind of a cross between an airplane and a helicopter. On a helicopter the rotor blades are powered by the engine and they lift the aircraft off the ground and pull it through the air. A gyro's rotor blades are not powered by the engine during flight. They are free spinning in autorotation. The free spinning rotor blades create a disc area that acts as a wing. Most gyros have an engine behind the pilot with the propeller pushing the aircraft. Some have the engine and propeller in front of the pilot pulling the aircraft. When a helicopter's engine stops in during flight the pilot must transition from powered flight to autorotation flight. A gyro is always in autorotation flight. If the engine stops during flight it can safely glide to a landing. Flying a gyroplane is often described as flying a motorcycle through the air. It is flying in it's most basic form.
In March 2005 I purchased an older Ken Brock KB-2 gyroplane with a 72 hp McCulloch engine. It needed a little TLC before it would be ready to fly and I started fixing it up. I added a horizontal stabilizer, instrument pod, aluminum wheels with hydraulic brakes on the mains, seat cover, CDI electronic ignition, dual tuned exhaust and a few other odds and ends.
I started my lessons with Steve McGowan in Macon, GA in the spring of 2006 and soloed in the fall. On my first flight back home I experienced my first "Mac Attack" engine failure. I was flying parallel to the runway so I simply glided down and landed on the runway. No big deal. I rebuilt the engine and was back flying in the spring of 2007. I also started looking for a newer, more reliable engine. I purchased a used Rotax 503 that spring and had a Rotax mechanic go through it to check it out. (Continued below) Here are a few photos of my gyro journey.
KB-2 with 72 hp McCulloch engine.
In the spring of 2008 I removed the old McCulloch drone engine and put the newer Rotax 503 engine on my gyro. The old engine was 40+? years old. With the new engine I no longer had to hand prop start the engine and I could use auto fuel instead of aviation fuel. When I put the Rotax engine on I wanted to try keeping the gyro frame stock without doing a drop keel mod. The stock KB-2 can handle a prop up to 52". I used a B-Box redrive with 2:1 gears and a 52" Warp Drive prop. After trying several prop pitch settings the one I settled in on let me cruise at 55 mph turning 5900-6000 engine rpms.
KB-2 with Rotax 503 engine. July 2008
1st flight with Rotax engine. July 2008
To see my Sport Copter build go Here: Sport Copter
Flying at Bensen Days - April 2009
I sold my KB-2 in the summer of 2009 to purchase a wrecked Sport Copter Vortex that needed a complete rebuild. Here is a photo of what my Sport Copter will look like when it is finished.