Single seat gyro types rarely flown in the U.K.

The Brock, KB2

The KB 2

 

There are very few Brock KB2 gyros currently flying in the U.K. at the moment, although this one spends more of its time in the air than most of the other gyros ! It is owned and flown by Simon Ledingham, and a few years ago was flown to the Popular Flying Association's international rally at Cranfield Airfield from Newcastle - an enormous distance for any gyro, let alone an open frame one ! The weather was certainly not like that in the photograph either !

The aircraft was built by the late Hugh Bancroft-Wilson and has a few modifications from the 'standard' KB2, which includes the fuel tanks and engine mount.

The Brock KB2, though not the KB3, is obviously a CAA approved gyro for flying in the U.K. and can be purchased in Kit form from Ken Brock Manufacturing in the U.S.A. ** At the time of updating this page Ken Brock had died in a recent fixed-wing aircraft accident. The availability of kits is uncertain, but I will attempt to clarify the situation as soon as possible.


Air Command 532 Elite

an Air Command 532 Elite

photo by Roger Light

Unfortunately the Air Command story in the U.K. has not been a happy one. They were first imported into the U.K. in 1988 in both single seat and two seat configurations, and, due to their popularity and ease of assembly sold in large numbers. However, there was also an unacceptably significant increase in the death rate amongst gyro pilots at that time, practically all of these being as a result of pilots flying the Air Commands. In 1991 the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued a Temporary Suspension Order on all Air Commands 'Permits-To-Fly'. This lasted for several years while the cause for this disproportionate number of deaths was investigated. A number of changes were recommended and Air Command owners who made those mandatory modifications were allowed to fly their aircraft again. Sadly these modifications did not prove to be the answer. One of the first pilots to carry out the modifications and regain his Permit-To-Fly died in an accident at a gyro rally, and shortly after the aircraft were grounded once again, pending a CAA investigation.


Predictably, the initial response to these fatalities was to blame the machine, though in truth the fast-track approach to flying these aircraft (and some other types) that many people seem to have taken, meant that many of those pilots were ill-prepared to face solo flight in a machine in which Air Command's new owners now accept that the thrust line to CG was less than ideal, leading to a sensitive machine. Only one Air Command is now flying in the UK, which was significantly modified in the nineties as an Air Command/Bensen hybrid, and classed by the CAA & PFA as a unique aircraft - the primary change being moving the thrust line in line with the CG. Of the sixty or so aircraft originally imported, many were exported, several stripped for spares, or parts used to create hybrids, and about 30 remain in potentially flyable condition.


In February 1999 the UK's Popular Flying Association Chief Engineer sent a letter to the British Rotorcraft Association saying ". . . The situation with the Air Command gyroplanes at present is that the CAA have decided not to issue Permits to Fly on these machines. This decision has been reached as a result of concerns over the high accident rate with the type, coupled with the results of research carried out by Glasgow University which suggested that the stability and handling of the Air Command may be unsatisfactory as it nears the edge of its flight envelope."


new style UK Air CommandAs a result of this the British Rotorcraft Association, in support of UK Air Command owners & pilots, undertook to investigate the ways forward. This resulted in the Engineering Officer taking responsibility for reaching an engineered solution which would meet the aspirations of the CAA, the PFA, the Glasgow report, owners, and Air Command. At the time of this update a UK upgrade kit is about to enter flight-testing, and may offer the solution required. The new UK dealer is Gerry Speich, contactable via metalrat@msn.com, or contact the Air Command website. The kit brings the thrust line and aircraft drag lines generally in line with the CG, now considered to be the optimum condition for flight stability. All new Air Command gyros since 2000 are sold in this configuration, with excellent customer feedback.

Air Commands are probably one of the most popular gyro types in the world today, being sold almost everywhere. They are to be congratulated for having recognised that their old designs could and did cause problems for pilots, particularly inexperienced ones. It would be great to see them flying again in the UK, and helping to restore the tarnished image of gyros.
The Glasgow University study into the stability of gyroplanes was commissioned largely as a result of the large number of UK Air Command deaths in the early days of that type, and the results have now been generally accepted by the gyro world and are being increasingly incorporated into new gyro designs


The BGL "Tyro Gyro, Mark 2"

the BGL Tyro Gyroanother photo of the BGL Tyro Gyro

This is the prototype designed and built by Peter Lovegrove of British Gyroplanes Ltd. It is seen here during flight-testing at Henstridge Airfield. For those of you that may not understand, the 'Tyro' part of it's title means that it is designed with flight training in mind - the main wheels and tailwheel being fully sprung (obviously this is also helpful for those of us who use less than flat fields to operate from!). It has a Rotax 503 2stroke engine and a Brock rotor and is the 25th gyro designed by Peter Lovegrove, the best known of which is the Campbell Cricket - still (in their replica forms) the most widely flown gyro in the U.K. It is currently being flown by Andrew Harvey.

British Gyroplanes Ltd., Unit 6B, Ayers Yard, Station Road, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 0JA U.K.

Tel/fax :[+44] (0)1491 826981


The Wombat - the late Chris Julian's design

the Wombat

Chris Julian flying his Wombat over a Cornish wind farm.

Chris Julian's Wombat design became a reality in the early 1990s, but since Chris's death in 1997 (at which time the Wombat was being put through the CAA's hoop) there have been no more Wombats produced. However, the design was modified as the 'Dingbat', Boris Aerial Photography having purchased the moulds, and can still be purchased. However, the design has never been CAA approved so can only be legally flown outside the UK.
For details see http://www.flygyro.com/dingbat


 

If you would like to see another page of gyros hardly, if ever, now flown in the U.K. click > gyro5a


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single seat gyro types commonly flown in the UK (Cricket types, Bensen, Montgomerie Bensen)

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single seat gyro types rarely flown in the UK (Wombat, KB2, Air Command, Hornet, McCandless, etc.)

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2 seat gyro types commonly flown in the UK (VPM M16, RAF2000)

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2 seat gyro types rarely flown in the UK

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