My latest 'hangar queen' ;) VSkyLabs FA Tensor 600X

I was in the mood to fly something a little different this morning, and VSkyLabs’ latest release, the FA Tensor 600X Auto-gyro or gyrocopter certainly falls into the ‘different’ category.

The 600X is a bit of a hybrid design. The wings evidently provide up to 30% of the lift during cruise flight. That takes some of the load from the rotor.

The panel is quite unique . The gap in the middle is great for keeping the runway in sight while making steep approaches. The AoA gauge at the right side of the panel gap is useful for preventing tail strikes while landing…


The main rotor on an autogyro isn’t powered. Before takeoff, you engage a small electric motor that gets the rotor up to speed. You can get it spinning without the electric motor, but you will eat up a lot more runway that way.

The visibility out of the cockpit is great…

Over the fence at about 50 knots…


Downwind at Orcas Island Airport.

It’s a great looking bird…fun to fly and you have to fly it a bit differently than a fixed wing airplane, but it is also not a helicopter (you can’t hover for example). Yet another great offering from VSkyLabs!

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Before he moved I flew my friend’s Calidus (?) several times. Loads of fun. This one though reminds me a lot of the Carter ‘Copter, for which X-Plane was used extensively during the design phase.

I just googled the Calidus… I bet that was fun to fly Eric.

I forgot to mention that this is the second autogyro in the VSkyLabs lineup. They also have the B-8M, which great to fly as well, although pretty basic.

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Are autogyros airplane single-engine land certification to fly? (That sentence was probably as hard to read as it was to type…)

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Good question. I would guess it would be a separate class, but if the VSkyLabs autogyros are anywhere near realistic, then they are pretty simple to fly. You just have to keep an eye on the rotor rpm at low airspeeds.

I’ll bet there is a different rating. I mean…you’d have to know a bit about rotor dynamics (retreating blade stall) and stuff. Off to Google…

I did some study on this once a zillion years ago. Came away in wonder that the things can get off the ground at all, without completely shaking themselves apart.

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They do try their hardest… which is why I fly fixed wing :wink: . @NEVO probably has a better grasp of physics than I do though :laughing: .

My ex used to be a regulatory doctor at the UK CAA. I was at a dinner of aviation doctors with her and listened in to a discussion on the assessment of psychiatric well being that is part of every aviation medical. I heard it proposed that anyone who indicated that they were intending to fly auto-gyro’s should automatically be considered as having failed the psychiatric assessment.

I have flown twice in an Air Command 532 gyro and spent an afternoon with the late Wing Commander Wallis at his home again with a group of aviation doctors. Amongst the doctors were members of the board that had just taken the Wing Commanders medical off him. He apologised that he could not demonstrate any of his gyro’s to us, but would we like him to fast taxi. We said yes. Certain doctors kept their backs turned as due to a nasty bump on the runway the gyro gave a spirited bravura air display never more than a rotor span off the ground. I am pleased to say a few months later he got a US medical and returned to the skies for the rest of his life. His technically advanced gyro’s are now in a charitable collection and fly occasionally. I am sure you saw him fly ‘Little Nellie’ in the James Bond film.


image

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I flew it once with an experienced heli pilot and it was fun indeed, albeit a bit on the slow side in cruise (around 160km/h).

If pre-rotated, the t/o run was next to nothing and the thing landed on a few meters too. Watching the rotor rpm was a key, of course.

I would buy a Calidus in a heartbeat if it was released for X Plane. I actually got just one add on for this platform so far :open_mouth:

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While not a Calidus, I think you would enjoy either, or both of the VSkyLabs autogyros. They are indeed pretty slow though. The 600X, which looks like it should rip along with it’s sleek lines and retractable nose gear, actually chugs along at about 120 knots if you push it. So no faster than a C172.

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You certainly have crossed paths with some aviation legends!

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Usually they see me coming and run. HRH Prince William went to uni with me, my being an immature mature student post my chemical accident… We chatted once or twice when we were the first to arrive for an 0900 lecture in adjacent lecture rooms. He was honoured and privileged to meet me I am sure!

The advantage of being at St Andrews at the same time as the prince was that every mother of single attractive long legged upper crust blondes with great bodies had also sent their daughters there in the hope of a royal match. Eye candy was everywhere. A much better experience than when I flew a Seneca 2 into Key West. Attractive woman were everywhere and my pal and I were walking around the town with our tongues out. Sadly the lesbian convention was that weekend.

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My friend flew F-104s for the Danish AF in the 70’s, moved to the US, flew corporate jets and helos, competed in his Pitts S-2A, flies and teaches sailplanes and owned a Citabria and a Rotorway Exec (helicopter, which I also flew a bit). He built the Calidus because He had had a heart attack and feared losing his medical. (A light enough gyro doesn’t require one). He said learning to fly it at his age was one of the hardest things he’s ever done. Not only did he need to forget his fixed-wing habits but his helicopter habits as well. Everything is easy but the takeoff, which is quite critical and can never be treated casually. I saw one crash 50 yard from me—totalled. Pilot was lucky and only broke his wrist.

Ole (my friend) ultimately flew (and flies) the thing at least 300 hours a year. He has never enjoyed a flying machine more. I thought it was fun but not THAT fun (C’mon! Better than a 104?!). Unlike a helicopter, it is not at all light or responsive. But it is very easy to fly and a real joy to land. But be very, VERY attentive on takeoff. Too low an RPM at too high an airspeed and over you roll!

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Loved that place. Hoping to get back some day.

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