Though they share the same basic controls as a fixed wing aeroplane – Stick, Throttle, and Rudder pedals – Gyroplanes are totally different.

Though the same basic control inputs are needed as a fixed wing aeroplane, the Gyroplane is significantly more nifty and manoeuvrable. Gyro pilots will routinely perform manoeuvres such as steep turns which would leave their fixed wing counterparts gasping for breath!

Cavalon Autogyro Gyrocopter

Autorotation

The motion of the rotor and the resulting upward thrust, or lift, depends entirely upon autorotation, resulting from the air flowing up and through the slightly tilted rotor blades as the machine moves forward.

The rotor blades of an autogyro are set at a shallow angle of about two degrees to the horizontal plane in which they rotate. The shape is that of an airfoil which enables the blades to turn into the airflow rather than be pushed round by it.

Wind stream through rotorblades

When turning fast these rotor blades offer considerable resistance to the upward airflow, and it is their resistance that can be used to provide lift. The amount of lift created depends upon a compromise between the airspeed of the rotors, and the resistance the rotating blades offer to the airflow past them. In practice the desired lifting force is only produced when the blade speed greatly exceeds the forward speed of the machine.

Any wind passing over an airfoil will create both lift and drag. The lift is perpendicular to the airflow, and the drag is parallel to the airflow. This is true for all airfoils, not just for the rotor in an autogyro. When the lift and drag vectors are added together, they create a Resultant Force. In autorotation, this resultant force is in front of the Axis of Rotation, so in addition to providing lift, it also pulls the rotor forward.

ELA Junior from Spain

Gyrocopter rotors as good as always are hinged in the middle. If the aircraft is flying forward, the rotor tips going rotating against the direction of travel are travelling faster than the aircraft, while those on the other side are actually going backwards. This gives more lift on the forward going side, and less on the backward going side. The hinge lets the rotor tilt up and down. As the blade goes forward the increased speed makes it flap up with a greater angle of attack to the relative wind which increases drag and reduces lift. As it swings around and goes backwards the reduced drag lowers the blade and lets it get a lesser angle of attack, thus increasing lift.