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Modern recreational gyroplanes are very different from the first gyroplanes developed in the 1920s.
Until recently, gyroplanes were usually home-built and operated in rural environments. Technological advances in factory-built light gyroplanes, now allow them to operate from established airfields and in certain circumstances, within controlled airspace.
A gyroplane, 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 rotor blades of a gyroplane are not powered. The rotor turns because of the passage of air through the rotor from below. A separate engine/propeller provides forward thrust. In the event of an engine failure, the gyroplane will descend, but the main rotor blades will continue to rotate and provide lift due to the continued airflow through them. Throughout flight, the gyroplane is therefore in a continuous state of autorotation and behaves similarly to a fixed wing aircraft, except that its wing rotates.
A gyroglider is a gyroplane without an engine and needs to be towed to altitude by some external means. In the past during war time, gyrogliders were towed behind ships and submarines (similar to a kite) to provide an aerial platform and better lookout for an observer.
A self-administering organisation is responsible for administering operational and airworthiness standards and for issuing pilot certificates.
Find out more about self-administering organisations.
Find out more about being an informed participant in sport aviation.