Gyrocopter Madness!

Gyrocopter Madness!

A civic-minded Florida mailman landed his gyrocopter on the U.S. Capitol lawn in a non-violent, symbolic demonstration against government corruption, and all America wants to know: What the heck is a gyrocopter?

Invented in the 1920s, the gyrocopter (also known as the autogyro and gyroplane) is an aircraft that gets its lift from an unpowered top rotor rather than wings, and is steered by a tail flap assembly like a small plane. Big gyrocopters are often pulled by engine-powered front propellers, but most are pushed by rear propellers. They can’t hover or take off vertically like a helicopter, but they can feather to a soft landing if they lose power, can take off and land in a small space, are relatively inexpensive, and they’re stable but kind of slow.

Thanks to that reform-minded mailman, now everyone wants a gyrocopter.



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Image: Hafner Gyroplane, painted by Howard Leigh. The aircraft was designed by Raoul Hafner and built by the Martin-Baker Aircraft Company in 1935. 

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