Fri, Sep 17, 2010
It is currently one of sport aviation's most intriguing sport
rotorcraft designs... but it is based on historic airframes that
more than proved their mettle during aviation's earlier
generations. Ron Herron's plans-built Little Wing Autogyro is a
tractor design which brings back a vintage look with its
tube-and-fabric fuselage and Rotec radial engine (though other
engine selections may be adapted).
More than just esthetically pleasing, the machine has
distinguished itself worldwide as the holder of 29 World Records
under the pilotage of rotornaut Andy Keech.
Fifteen years in the making, the latest version of the Little
Wing autogyro is the fifth in a series of tractor configurations
that mimic the designs of old like Pitcairn, Kellett, and Juan de
la Cierva. The first machine, the LW-1, was powered by an 0-200
engine while four other designs (single and two-place) have since
been developed to get to today's LW-5. One of the main reasons for
Herron's efforts was to bring enhanced pitch stability to today's
sport rotorcraft... something of an issue in a number of other
Herron notes that this configuration offers increased pitch
stability to the point where pilot induced oscillation (PIO) is
virtually eliminated and power-push-over (PPO) is impossible.
Herron credits the fact that these aircraft incorporate large
horizontal tail surfaces located well aft of the rotor thrustline
while the propeller thrustline passes through the loaded center of
gravity of the entire machine as well as the center of fuselage
parasitic drag. Thus, there is no undue pitching moment created by
engine thrust or fuselage drag at any speed or power setting.
Other design attributes offered by Herron's Little Wing designs (as
compared to the generic pusher designs that started with the
original Bensen gyrocopter) include better crash survivability,
better engine cooling, increased propeller efficiency and decreased
noise levels, eliminates potential propeller/rotor damage, greater
utility, and classic looks.
Available in plans form, the aircraft's more difficult to
assemble components (like a pre-welded fuselage) are available
directly from Herron.
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