What is a Gyro Copter? The ultimate Gyroplanes Buyer’s Guide

Generally it is called a gyrocopter, but it also goes by gyroplane, autogiro and autogyro. Like a glider, airplane and helicopter, a gyrocopter uses wings to fly, only just like helicopters, the wings, or blades, are mounted on pylons and spin in circles. Below is the description of what a gyrocopter is all about:

  • A gyrocopter looks like a small helicopter and can do virtually anything a helicopter can, except at a fraction of the cost and more safely.

  • Unlike a helicopter, where the rotating wing (blade) is directly driven by the engine, a gyrocopter's wing is free-spinning, which means it can't hover, but can come close due to the small amount of speed it needs to remain airborne. A gyrocopter can stay up at just 5-10 knots.

  • The rotors of a gyrocopter are not turned by rotors; they are self-propelled and since the engine is not connected to the rotors, a gyrocopter is not seriously affected by an engine failure, making it one of the safest methods of flight.

  • Gyroplanes can be purchased and operated for less than some motorcycles.

  • Traditionally, gyrocopters are open cockpit "motorbikes of the sky" but according to, since 2010 they became available as fully enclosed models.

  • A typical sing-seat gyrocopter is about 14 feet long and eight feet wide and weighs about 500 pounds.

  • Most gyrocopters fly no higher than 3,000 feet .

  • Gyrocopters generally cruise at 45-60 miles-per-hour. The world speed record is just more than 168 mph.

  • Gyrocopters are built from kits, plans or are original designs. No companies currently produce gyroplanes that can be licensed to fly in the US. In most other countries, gyroplanes can be purchased as ready-to-fly from a manufacturer.

Aerotrek ELA G8 Cruser ELA G8 Ranger. Aerotrek markets three gyroplanes manufactured in Spain by ELA Aviacion. The European market has been the leader in innovation in gyroplanes, and these are some of the finest. The Ranger is an open-cockpit gyroplane equipped with larger tundra tires, and is good for rough or soft fields and great for flight training. It includes a precision-welded stainless-steel frame, composite tail feathers, winglets for excellent stability and a two-blade carbon-fiber rotor with aluminum spar. It's factory built, balanced and test flown. The Ranger is powered by the Rotax 912ULS 100 hp engine. Price: $57,850. ELA G8 Cruser. This is a nicer two-seat, open-cockpit gyroplane suitable for touring, aero-exploring, recreation and flight training, as well as practical field applications. The Cruser has a high-performance three-blade DUC Windspoon composite prop, along with deluxe padded seats with four-point seat/shoulder belts, a steerable nosewheel and the Rotax 912 ULS 100 hp engine. Price: $59,950.

Aerotrek ELA G10 Eclipse ELA G10 Eclipse. Just unveiled at Friedrichshafen 2014, the ELA G10 Eclipse is a fully enclosed gyroplane that's readily convertible to an open-cockpit gyroplane. The Eclipse has dual enclosed storage compartments and is especially suitable for touring on long cross-countries or for colder climates (it has a cockpit heater). Boasting excellent visibility and an auto-like interior, it appeals to those accustomed to enclosed aircraft. Price: $91,950.

Cavalon (Airgyro ) MTO Sport. The MTO is a jeep for the sky, and for those who like to feel free and open while they fly. A full fuselage and tall windscreens provide quite a bit of protection from the elements. The MTO Sport has been flown from sand, dirt, grass and water (with optional pontoons). It's ubiquitous in Europe (it's manufactured in Germany) and is one of the lowest-cost two-seat gyroplanes out there. More of these gyroplanes have been sold around the world than any other gyroplane from any other manufacturer. Price: $66,450. Calidus. Looking like something out of a James Bond film, the Calidus is an aerial sports car. Powered by the 115 hp turbocharged Rotax 914, the Calidus will cruise at 100 mph burning just 4 gph, turn on a dime and go long distances in comfort. Tandem seating, dual controls, a wide cabin and excellent visibility are hallmarks of the Calidus. Garmin GPS and weather are an option. Price: $90,000. Cavalon. The Cavalon has won a slew of awards, and it looks as good as it flies. A unique feature is the side-by-side seating and covered carbon-fiber fuselage, so long trips are a pleasure for both pilot and passenger. The Cavalon includes fully adjustable heated leather seats and plenty of space behind the seats for baggage. It will give you 100 knots cruise burning about five gph. Price: $111,000.

Arrow Copter AC20. The Austrian-built AC20 is in the luxury category of the gyroplane world. Distributed in the U.S. by North American Gyro, the AC20 is unlike other gyroplane designs on the market. Instead of a tubular steel frame, the sexy AC20 is built from composite materials, giving it smooth, flowing lines. Its innovative wing-landing gear combination functions as a lifting device, gear suspension and fuel tank. With a 120 mph cruise, the AC20 is aimed at the performance market. Price: $160,000 (base price).

Sport Copter Lightning. For pilots who want minimal investment and are okay with letting it all hang out in the breeze, the Sport Copter Lightning fits the bill. A single-place, open gyrocopter, the Lightning is powered by the 52 hp Rotax 503 engine. The spider-like airframe is built of large-diameter aluminum tubing along with rough-field suspension and the patented "Roto-Control" system. A step-by-step video is included with the assembly manual. Lightning can be assembled in 50-60 hours with basic hand tools and will give you a gyroplane that will cruise at 63 mph. Price: $21,995. Sportcopter II. Manufactured in the U.S. in Oregon, the Sportcopter II is another enclosed gyroplane with sleek lines and all-weather capability. The roomy 49-inch-wide cabin and two-seat side-by-side configuration make it feel larger than it is. Qualifying as an LSA, the Sportcopter II is powered by a Lycoming IO-360 engine and features a triple vertical stabilizer/rudder system that provides excellent stability in slow flight maneuvering and high-speed cruise. Price: $84,995. Vortex M912. Looking more like a traditional gyroplane, the M912 is manufactured in Oregon by Sportcopter. It was created as something of a flying workhorse for mustering (the equivalent of our herding) cattle in Australia, hence the "M" for "mustering." Built for rough-field and utility flying, the M912 features a longer tail boom, larger horizontal stabilizer, outboard fins and high-performance suspension. Built from 4130 steel tubing, this is a single-place gyroplane that can be flown out in the open or with its partially enclosed body. Price: $65,195.

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