Dick Degraw is an aircraft builder whose creations attract serious onlookers. Not many self-taught engineers and machinists branch out from racing and servicing motorcycles to building and flying their own deep-intermeshed, twin rotor helicopters, but that's just one of Dick's novel creations. "Gyrhino," his scratch-built vertical takeoff gyroplane, has a transparent fuselage for ease of inspection, but that also puts everything he's built for the machine in clear view.
At the 2010 Popular Rotorcraft Association convention in Mentone, IN, Dick and his wife, Karol, brought a pair of vertical-takeoff rotorcraft that blur the line between helicopters and gyroplanes. In each machine, partial engine power is fed to the rotor at all times, improving efficiency over a traditional gyroplane, yet not requiring a tail rotor. Both machines will jump, or do vertical takeoffs, using rotor inertia, as Dick and Karol demonstrated several times in startling, synchronized, side-by-side fashion at Mentone.
Aside from the technical achievements, this is a story about two people with unusual life pursuits who were blessed to find each other. Dick and Karol DeGraw talked with Aero TV at Mentone about their common background in motorcycles, their love of flight, and the 1989 contest that resulted in the creation of the original "Gyrhino," Dick's remarkable jump-gyroplane.
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