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Mon, Apr 19, 2004

AAI's Got Your Six

By ANN Correspondent Kevin "Hognose" O'Brien

As more and more about gyroplane stability and control is understood more and more widely, an effective horizontal stabilizer and powerful rudder are important tools to counteract any pitch instability, and wind-induced yaw, respectively.

Nobody takes stability and control more seriously than Jim Mayfield and the gang at American Autogyro Incorporated, of Buckeye, Arizona, and the AAI Sparrowhawk gyro has a large, cruciform tail - an empennage that means business.

OK, So What's the Bad News?

The downside of the AAI tail is that it is costly - in money, or in builder time. AAI dealer Randy Coplen of Seattle made no bones about it in a post to a gyro forum: "I did buy the tail assembly prefabricated and I would recommend that to most buyers. There is a lot of time and effort in putting the tail assembly together. It is worth the extra bucks to have either AAI do it or have assistance from you[r] local SparrowHawk build center…. My understanding is that it takes about 100 to 120 hours to build the tail assembly."

Randy has a builder who is fabricating his own Sparrowhawk tail, so he should soon have an idea on how long it takes an ordinary builder to do it, and how difficult he thought it was.

As Randy indicated, AAI will build the tail assembly for you, for $948; if his 100 hour estimate holds, then you are valuing your labour at about $9.50 an hour. For every hour beyond that, your "wage" drops.

And the Good News? How Does "Free" Grab Ya?

The good news is, that for every gyro kit sold at Sun-n-Fun, which runs through Monday, AAI is including assembly of the tail for free, leaving those 100-120 hours (if Randy's estimate holds) in your schedule, or $948 in your wallet.

Of course, most of you are reading this on the net, and aren't at Sun-n-Fun. Will the deal hold for telephone and net orders? All I can suggest is calling Buckeye and asking! Telephone (623) 393-9451   FAX (623)393-9702, or email sales@americanautogyro.com. The worst thing they can do is say "no" to you.

AAI started this promotion at Bensen Days (a gyro event held just before Sun-n-Fun at Wachula, FL). Is it working? AAI reps told me that they had sold 43 examples of the gyro, and counting; the kits are being built in batches and shipped as quickly as possible. This for a machine that was only introduced last summer at Mentone and that was not seen in public in its definitive version (the machine pictured with this article is the production prototype) until now.

AAI is the kit-gyro subsidiary of the well-known gyroplane research and development firm Groen Brothers Aviation which is working to sell its turboprop-powered Hawk 4 Gyroplane to the law enforcement and homeland security community as it pursues future certification.

And Another Thing…

This was also the first appearance of the AAI Sparrowhawk at a show. In the past, AAI has shown RAF2000 gyros which have been equipped with the AAI Stability and Control kit. There is great commonality between the parts of the kit and the AAI Sparrowhawk, but the AAI gyro lacks the RAF's patented features, and has one very welcome feature (visible in the front view): a wider cabin. The AAI is actually wider than a Cessna 172!

FMI: www.americanautogyro.com


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