The much anticipated day was Wednesday the 29th February 2012. It was not a Microlight, but a Gyrocopter instead. After a short ephemeral introduction and a brief on the photoshoot, Capt. Ahmad immediately went on with his ritual – the pre-flight checks. The meticulous pre flight checks that he carried out only gave me the assurance that I was in the safe hands of an experienced pilot.
I was pretty nervous knowing that I would be flying in this tiny open cockpit aircraft, but my previous experience in jumping off a cliff (Kullu Manali, India) strapped onto a paraglide, gave me a childlike expectation of the thrill that would soon consume me.
Before moving on, I should first explain what a Gyrocopter is. A Gyrocopter looks like a small helicopter. A gyrocopter (also know as gyroplane, autogyro or rotaplane) is a type of rotorcraft, which uses an unpowered rotor in autorotation to develop lift, and an engine-powered propeller, similar to that of a fixed-wing aircraft, to provide thrust. While similar to a helicopter rotor in appearance, the gyrocopter’s rotor must have air flowing through the rotor disc in order to generate rotation. There are three primary flight controls: control stick, rudder pedals, and throttle. Unlike most other forms of flight a Gyrocopter flies slow enough and low enough to allow you to see what is happening in the world below, whilst at the same time providing a truly exhilarating experience. It is the ultimate way to fly.
While the gyro is usually flown for recreational purposes, its uses extend far beyond that. Gyroplanes can be used in agricultural applications, environmental observation or to monitor traffic, pipelines, etc. They are ideal for aerial photography or the exploration of remotest areas, and every flight is guaranteed to offer a unique experience.
Flying a gyrocopter with Capt. Ahmad was a joy and an experience one will not forget. In 10 minutes, my nerves calmed down, and I was able to fully open my eyes and enjoy the flying. Being an environmentalist, he was very familiar with the landscape he was able to talk to me (speakers in the helmet and attached microphone) about various environmental issues in Qatar.
Length x width x height:
5,1 m x 1,9 m (1,6m) x 2,7 m
|Rotor diameter:||8.0 m or 8.4 m|
|Cruising speed:||160 km/h|
|Maximum speed:||185 km/h|
|Rate of climb:||4 m/s|
|Max takeoff weight:||450 / 560 kg|
|Engine:||Rotax 912 ULS (100 hp)|