Autogiros, Autogyros, Gyroplanes and Gyrocopters are generic names for a type of aircraft first invented in 1923 by Spanish engineer Juan De La Cierva and which he named 'Autogiro'. He went on to successfully develop the Autogiro through the 1920's and 1930's and it became the forerunner in the development of the later successful helicopter.
When the helicopter came to prominence after the second World War, the Autogiro industry declined but interest was renewed in the U.S.A. by Igor Bensen who experimented with pre-WW2 military kites and went on to successfully market a simple open framed Autogyro using a two bladed teetering rotor system and powered by a lightweight two-stroke drone engine. This he marketed as a 'Gyrocopter' and it was the forerunner of most of the later generations of this type of aircraft.
Cierva's 1930's prototype C30 Autogiro with direct control rotor system
Igor Bensen flying a towed
WWII Hafner 'Rotachute'
The most popular homebuilt
'Gyrocopter' the Bensen B-8M
with conventional Joystick
Cierva C4 - first successful Autogiro
First flight 9th of January 1923
Todays' generation of light Autogyros have now proliferated worldwide and are considered as a worthy alternative to other forms of sport aviation. Single and two seat versions are available and they are usually regulated in some form by the relevant aviation authority of the country in which the aircraft is being operated. Now commonly referred to as Gyros, these aircraft are impossible to stall, even at zero airspeed, they can fly at speeds varying from zero to 100 m.p.h., can hover or fly backwards in certain wind conditions and can make safe and controlled landings in the event of engine failure.
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