I really do not like heights. When I can see that drop and it’s all just very unnatural being up when we are designed to be down. So, you can imagine my delight when it was suggested I should go and investigate a flying school and have a trip in a gyrocopter. I laughed, then I cried a bit.
Off I went to Castro Marim to meet the team and try at all costs to avoid actually leaving terra firma. The set up at the airfield is pretty impressive. And, there I met my first ever gyrocopter. So, exactly what is a gyrocopter? Well, it was certainly more substantial than I had imagined. I was dreading one of those microlight things that look like you are just sitting in a chair up in the air and are definitely about to crash. Modern recreational gyroplanes are very different from the first gyroplanes developed in the 1920s.
Until recently, gyroplanes were usually home-built and operated in rural environments. Technological advances in factory-built light gyroplanes now allow them to operate from established airfields and in certain circumstances, within controlled airspace.
A gyroplane, is a type of rotorcraft which uses an unpowered rotor in autorotation to develop lift, and an engine-powered propeller, similar to that of a fixed-wing aircraft, to provide thrust. While similar to a helicopter rotor in appearance, the rotor blades of a gyroplane are not powered. The rotor turns because of the passage of air through the rotor from below. A separate engine/propeller provides forward thrust. In the event of an engine failure, the gyroplane will descend, but the main rotor blades will continue to rotate and provide lift due to the continued airflow through them. Throughout flight, the gyroplane is therefore in a continuous state of autorotation and behaves similarly to a fixed wing aircraft, except that its wing rotates.
Apart from offering pleasure (ha ha ha) flights across the Algarve, the gyrocopter is used in aerial photography and filming for a number of reasons. People also engage the pilot to photograph their land and homes for topography issues.
Without appearing a complete idiot, I knew there was no way out of doing this. With a massive emphasis on safety and discussing all the what if’s, I was ready to do the tour. These chaps are not daft and sensed my, shall I put it mildly and say, hesitation? But, they were not pushy or dismissive, just reassuring and I’m so glad I actually climbed into the plane and off we went! The trip was wonderful! So much to see and discover. Places I would love to revisit (by car!) and explore. The flight over the nature reserve was the highlight and is something I will never forget. I don’t want to go into too much detail – no spoilers! Suffice to say, the flight was breathtaking and I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this trip as one of those fantastic experience gifts.
So happy I actually took the plunge and completed the trip because it really was a beautiful experience. The pilots are fabulous, location, incredible and I know what Father Christmas is bringing him indoors this Christmas!
Phone: 919 445 868
Address: Rua de Portugal, 8900-000 Monte Gordo