There is a caste system in aviation that says , bigger and more expensive aircraft are better and more deserving . I have to admit to belonging to that system way back in the early 60's when my husband Docko, saw an ad in Popular Mechanics or Popular Science, or some such magazine, about something called a " Bensen Gyrocopter".
The picture was of a small machine that looked like a tiny helicopter where the pilot sat out in the open , very exposed to everything and was held onto the fragile looking machine by a simple seat belt ! My guy was in love with that machine ! It was all he talked about . I tried to tune him out for I was a real pilot ! I flew AIRPLANES...real aircraft, in other words. And that pile of square aluminum tubing didn't fit my picture of a real flying machine. The old caste system was alive and well !
He tried various methods to get me to warm up to the gyro. He touted the fact that it came in kit form and he would build it himself, therefore it would not cost a fortune to build.
Further, he could teach himself to fly it and fly it out of our back yard...that was what the advertisement said anyway. He persevered and finally started buying gyrocopter kits and building his dream machine.
Skip ahead to where it was finally finished and we flew it. My first lift-off in his gyro and I lost my heart forever to that funny looking machine.
All that was way back when my children were very young ( the oldest one is 58 now ) and I have flown gyros all down through those years and loved every minute of it. Ok, I gave my hearing to the loud unmuffled McCulloch engine, but who can say that I wouldn't have lost my hearing if I never saw a gyro ? The gyro gave me more than it ever took from me. The gyro and I are getting along in years but we're still flying and enjoying it.
The photo at the left is of me flying my Bensen Gyrocopter at the Ken Brock Freedom Fly-in a couple of months ago in September.
I still see the old aviation caste system at times , usually by high time corporate pilots , you know , the guys who fly the boss to some airport and stand around and wait all day for him to be driven back to the airport so the corporate pilot can fly him back home . The biz jets they fly can't possibly give one the pleasure that my simple little Bensen gyro does and has for so many many years . The small Bensen is living proof that less is more !
Till next time
Marion Springer , CFI - Gyro-ret.