LightSportGyroplanes.comThursday August 6, 2020
Date: February 5, 2016
The Titanium Explorer
Arriving in the US:
by Ira McComic
I wrote an article which appeared in the December-January 2016 issue of Powered Sport Flying magazine entitled, “Another Choice for the Gyroplane-Ready”, an assessment of the Titanium Explorer, a gyroplane produced in Australia by Titanium Autogyro (TAG) and recently made available in the US from the manufacturer’s distributor, Titanium Autogyro North America (TAGNA). In another Rambling (TAG and TAGNA: A Match Made in Australia), I wrote the backstory of how the Australian manufacturer and the North American distributor for the Titanium Explorer gyroplane got together. This Rambling is a behind-the-scenes look at the arrival of the very first Titanium Explorer gyroplane in the US.
In the winter of 2014, Jim and Christine Toevs, the farming couple from Kansas and two of the principals of TAGNA, the new North American distributorship for the Titanium Explorer gyroplane, were in Australia where they were assembling a new aircaft whose destiny would be the first Titanium Explorer to set wheels in the US.
They had started the assembly in December, Jim helping complete the bulk of the work until he had to return to the States. Chris concluded the finishing details, working alongside Neil Sheather, the Titanium Explorer’s designer and manufacturer, at an assembly facility near Tamworth where Neil’s aviation partner, Andrew Pepper, receives the carbon fiber composite components and the titanium parts for the aircraft. Those parts, designed by Neil, are made in China and where Neil spends a lot of time overseeing the production of those parts.
At the turn of the year in January, the aircraft was assembled and ready for shipment to the States, except for the rotor blades. When Neil received the first sets of new rotor blades he had designed for the Titanium Explorer, ones made from pre-preg carbon fiber material embedded with epoxy resins, he wasn’t quite satisfied with the quality of their production.
One set of these rotor blades was intended for Jim and Chris’ gyroplane and another set was intended for the Titanium Explorer headed for the US in the same container, but instead, Neil arranged for other rotor blades to be made to replace the two sets he had first gotten. When he got them, he would have them painted and would flight test them before shipping them together with the two gyroplanes. Meanwhile, Chris returned to the States.
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