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The Gyroplane: A Fun Spin on Aviation

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DUBUQUE, Iowa - An aviation company in Our Town is hoping a popular aircraft in Europe will catch on in the states soon. It's called the gyroplane.

It looks like a small helicopter, but really the only similarity between it and a chopper is the rotor. Pictaio Aerospace President Chris Lord knows aviation, but the gyroplane, caught him off guard.

"I thought I was pretty rich in knowledge for aviation and everything I had flown this defies everything with that," Lord said. "One flight in that and I was hooked I had to get one."

Lord's fascination snowballed after that first flight. He became a gyroplane instructor, and now sells the aircraft. Actually, he sells the kits. A gyroplane aircraft is what you call experimental, meaning you have to put it together.

"They come in a quick build kit which means assembly is anywhere from ten days to 20 days, typically a good week of solid hours, and it's more of an assembly process but you do have to manufacture or assemble 51 percent of them to be legal within the FAA," Lord said.

Chief Flight Instructor David Farningham say it's pretty easy to learn how to fly, even for someone without aviation experience.

"It's a very friendly aircraft that just about anybody can get in and learn to fly," Farningham said.

People come to Pictaio Aerospace from all over the country to learn how to fly the gyroplane. Lord and Farningham teach them at the Dubuque Regional Airport. But why are people drawn to these unusual aircraft?

"It's absolute freedom, you know, you don't get nearly the turbulence that you do in another aircraft, flies through all the bumps a lot nicer it's very smooth, comfortable platform," Farningham said.

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