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Mon, Jan 28, 2013

The Only Amphibious Gyroplane In The U.S.

It Might Look A Bit Odd, But Builder Says It's A Good Flying Machine

By David Juwel

The gyroplane community here in the United States is mostly familiar with the float flying that Sport Copter depicts in their information video. Few have ever seen a gyroplane on floats in real life. In fact, if you research float flying with gyroplanes, you’ll be advised not to do it due to fears about HTL PPO, yaw-roll coupling, landing flare issues, to name just a few. But the reason for that is the type of gyroplane that people have wanted to put floats on; the Bensen gyroplane for instance. That design isn’t the best design to accommodate floats. For one thing, it’s too light.

Today we have more modern designs with better engineering and you’ll find several different models flying with floats in Europe. Here in the United States, gyroplane float flying is moving forward and taking a step upward by adding wheels. We now have a gyroplane that is successfully flying with amphibious floats; capable of both land and water operations.

Roy T. Hanan, brought his amphibious MTO Sport to the LSA Expo, in Sebring, Florida. He has installed a set of amphibious Puddle Jumper floats onto the machine. To support the amphibious operation, Roy says the aircraft requires a Rotax 914 with turbo. If you are interested, completely configured, the aircraft will cost you $85,000.

Like others, I was concerned about the additional mass the floats present. Surely the side pressures from the wind on that extra surface area would make controlling the aircraft more difficult, especially in gusts.  Roy says there is very little additional influence from the wind. He has flown the floats in 35 kt. winds and hasn’t had any problems. He says this is principally because of the large horizontal stabilizer, the large rudder, and the large vertical fin. The weight of the aircraft also helps to dampen the influence of the wind.

I then enquired about its comparison to fixed-wing float flying. Roy says he can take-off shorter than a fixed-wing. The gyroplane takes off almost vertically when it jumps up onto the step. Landing is even more effective. When he lands, he lands tail first and the mass of the floats stop him within 10 feet. In comparison with a regular gyroplane, the t/o run with floats is longer.

He has a massive spray shield under the prop. I wondered if that acted as an air brake whenever he pulled back on the stick, or if its large surface contributed to his lift aerodynamically. Roy says he has experienced no adverse effects as the result of having the spray shield installed.
As equipped, the aircraft can support 275 lbs. in the front seat and 265 lbs. in the back seat, however, the useful load is limited to 400 lbs. The aircraft cruises at 75 mph with a 200 mile range. Roy is planning on flying from Florida to Oshkosh this summer.



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