By Rocky Landsverk
As a lifelong gyroplane enthusiast and now a salesperson for Magni Gyro of Italy, Dayton Dabbs has been giving advice on gyros for most of his career, and often trying to dispel exaggerations on both sides of the safety discussion. Most advice that you’ll hear about a gyroplane can be summarized in a standardized cliché that may or may not be true: They’re fun but dangerous. We asked Dabbs to what degree each of those traits is true.
“I’m an airplane instructor and a gyroplane instructor, so I have some insight into both realms,” Dabbs said. “If your purpose is genuinely the enjoyment of flying and truly experiencing everything, there is nothing that can beat a gyroplane. I would also argue that, in the event of an engine failure, they are one of the safest aircraft in the sky. In that situation, I would feel far safer flying that gyro than I would flying my Mooney or my 310.
“With that being said, it’s an aircraft just like any other aircraft, and one of the problems with gyroplanes is that they are often marketed in a way that stresses that they are a miracle aircraft and nothing will ever go wrong, which isn’t true. As long as you respect it, it is an incredibly safe and forgiving aircraft.”
Dabbs, and often with his friend John Craparo, have taken gyroplanes from Texas to Oshkosh several times and plan to this year. They’ve also flown them to Los Angeles and to New York City, landing at LaGuardia. “It will go cross country at about 87 knots,” he said. “We’ve also taken it to Havana, Cuba. It’s not an aircraft for a business traveler. For that, I have a 310.”
So if you have a youngster learning to fly, which comes first? Do they learn in the gyro or the small training airplane? Dabbs said that depends what’s available, of course, but if all options are on the table, it would depend on what the professional goal might be. “The airplane is going to open up more doors professionally in the future, if that’s a route they want to go,” he said. “But the gyroplane is a very efficient way to get into rotorcraft flying, including helicopters. So, if someone wants a career in helicopters, the gyroplane is a very efficient way to get into that.”