Thursday September 24, 2020


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Dan Johnson's
Light-Sport Aircraft

World Record Claims Are
Putting Gyroplanes on the Map

When claiming a speed record over a defined course, the speed is measured from wheels-up at the originating point to wheels-down at the destination, no matter how many stops were made in-between or for how long.

As an example, although their typical cruise speed was faster, John and Daytonís flight from Dallas to Los Angeles averaged 56 kilometers per hour, a little less than 35 miles per hour. On that flight, they encountered fog in Arizona and had to set down to wait it out. During the Los Angeles to New York flight, their average speed was faster: 64 kph (40 mph). On that flight, they had to wait in New Jersey a while until the window of time for their approved landing slot at the busy LaGuardia Airport. They used that wait to catch some Zs, but after oversleeping on a hangar floor, they had to hustle to comply with the approved slot or lose it. (Incidentally, John and Dayton praised the air traffic controllers at all the airports for their support.) The flight from New York to Dallas averaged a leisurely 38 kph (24 mph).

These are historic flights and are important for several reasons. The first reason is the accomplishment itself. These flights all required careful planning and follow-through. Theyíre testaments to these pilotsí airmanship.

Secondly, these flights serve to establish first-time world records for this classification of gyroplanes, which includes light-sport gyroplanes as defined by the FAA. Itís likely that these records can be bettered and, in some cases, perhaps fairly easily. Yet, the importance of establishing a record is that it sets a benchmark, a measurable goal as well as an incentive for other gyroplane pilots to try to beat.

Thirdly, these flights have brought more positive recognition for gyroplanes. They have helped some folks change their notion of what these aircraft are. It helps them understand that light-sport gyroplanes are capable cross-country aircraft, much different from the rickety gyrocopters that a lot of folks still visualize. To me, Johnís comment about the air controllers is telling. I think itís evidence that gyroplanes are now being considered more equally with other aircraft by these professionals; that means not only that gyroplanes are afforded more respect, but theyíre also given the same expectation as other aircraft, such as complying with the requirements for a landing slot.

Johnís experience with air traffic controllers echoes my experience with other members of the aviation community. Often before, when I talked with pilots who flew other kinds of aircraft, many of those pilots expressed a disdain for gyroplane pilots in general, claiming that pilots who flew those kind of rotorcraft didnít rise to the level of airmanship of other pilots. Iím now finding that more pilots are beginning to consider gyroplanes and their pilots in a more positive light, and the achievement of these records by these airman helps further dispel those negative opinions.

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Light-Sport Gyroplanes:
An introductory guide

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The 2017 supplement for
Light-Sport Gyroplanes

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Click to view 'The Gyroplane Calendar Book for 2020' at
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