You Spin me right round, baby. Right round, like a record... Today's nice Price or Crack Pipe is something a little different - an Autogyro - about the most basic way to fly short of jumping out of a window. You're going to need to determine if its price is sky high.
Cinderella may have needed a fairy godmother to go from 'the help' to 'hells yeah' but the similar transformation achieved by yesterday's 1973 Datsun 620 only required time, a sensible restoration, and a price tag that was grounded in reality and not fairy tales. That truck's 88% Nice Price win got the week off the ground, and today we're going to see if we can fly.
The Autogyro was invented by Juan de la Cierva in 1921 and was first flown in 1923. The Spanish engineer was seeking to design an aircraft that could be safely piloted at relatively low speeds. His solution was to fit an unpowered rotor in place of wings to provide lift through autorotation.
The autogyro's main rotor provides lift by having air pushed against its underside which causes the rotation, The thrust to do that that is typically by an engine and second prop, either on the front or back. This setup means that, unlike a helicopter, an autogyro can't hover or move in the air in any direction but forward. The fastener that holds that lift-producing rotor onto the rotor head, and hence the copter, is commonly referred to as the Jesus Bolt, or Jesus Nut due to the ramifications of its failure.
You may be most familiar with autogyros from the movies as they were featured prominently in both the Bond film You Only Live Twice, and the Mad Max epic, The Road Warrior. Bond's heavily kitted gyro-in-a-box was nicknamed Little Nellie and was based on the Wallis WA-116. That was designed by Ken Wallis who was an RAF Wing Commander and general tinkerer of the British kind.
The Road Warrior's Gyro Captain flew a Volkswagen-powered Bensen and director Miller took some liberties with the aircraft, implying that it was able to land almost vertically. Oh well, that's a minor gaffe for such a great flick.
Today's autogyro is claimed to be from a company called Windmiller which I must say is not the greatest name for an aircraft. It's sort of like calling your car company Uncorrectable Oversteer Ltd. Regardless, I've never heard of Windmiller. Neither have these guys, and they're pretty much the experts, although they do seem to think that it's a derivation of the Bensen design, just in a heavier steel frame form.
The mill is said to be a Nelson H-63 which is a two-stroke horizontally-opposed four that pumps out about 43-horsepower at 4,000 RPM. As you would expect, it's air-cooled. It's also pretty cool looking and I'll bet sounds amazing.
It won't be getting this gyro flying at present as the seller claims the current set of rotors are not airworthy. Those will likely cost new twice as much as the copter itself, so keep that in mind while you're spit-polishing your aviator goggles. Other than that, the aircraft seems sound, and there are apparently a bunch of parts - including a spare engine - that comes along with it. Bonus!
Also worthy of shouting bonus! are the ad's description of the craft being extremely well engineered and built - just like what the Navy uses - and that it has full instrumentation. The single seat does look a bit basic, but you could probably pick up a pillow or two at the local thrift store.
Why would you want a gyrocopter? Because of these four words - as the crow flies. You see, if you've got to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible then the bird is the word. An autogyro is also about as elemental and bird-like as you can get in a powered aircraft and hell, you could probably take off from your street if you've got neighbors who aren't a total pain in ass.
What'll it take to put you behind the stick and in the air with Obama's drones? Well, this bad boy comes with an asking price of $1,500. There's also the question of a new set of rotors, but I'll bet those guys in the rotary forum would be able to hook you up with some serviceable used blades on the cheap.
What's your take on becoming gyro captain for $1,500? Is that an awesome price to be able to see which of your neighbors sunbathes naked? Or, does that price make you not give an aviation fornication?
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