When I was a wee lad of five years old, one of the first careers that I thought that I wanted to pursue was to be a pilot – or, better yet, an astronaut. Over time, though, reality set in. Learning to fly is costly and it wasn’t practical at that time (not that it’s all that practical now). And, in about 1968, I recall watching a program on Nebraska Public Television about the Bensen Gyrocopter and I’ve been enamored with the thought of flying a gyrocopter ever since then.
Over the past year, I’ve been very fortunate to finally learn how to fly a gyrocopter with the very wonderful assistance of Chris Lord at Pictaio Aerospace. The first few lessons were thrilling and frustrating because there’s a lot to learn and the skills required are different from anything that I’ve ever known. A few more lessons were frustrating because it didn’t seem like I was making very much progress. But, finally in the fall, after about fifteen hours of training, I soloed and it was one of the biggest thrills of my life! Unfortunately, winter then set in and that slowed my training. Flying in an open cockpit gyrocopter becomes challenging as the mercury falls.
This spring, the training restarted and in an enclosed gyrocopter. The first few hours were frustrating because I was rusty, but I did solo again. The next step was a cross-country solo so that I could better learn navigation skills. I’m almost ready for my “final” exams. In the meantime, Chris has given me a leash that’s about 25 nautical miles long around the Platteville, WI airport, where I’ve been training. That radius allows me to get to Lancaster and Boscobel, Mineral Point and Cassville (C74), while also avoiding the airspace around the Dubuque airport.
I’m hoping to put the gyrocopter to use as some type of platform for my photography as well as videos. Videos aren’t my strength, but I’m learning. The following video is an edited version of the hour-long flight. Yes, I know that there are issues with my video – I have to figure out how to get rid of the “jelloing” of the video. But, like my flying, it’s a work in progress.
Enjoy the video!