Friday, April 8, 2016

VSKYLABS Autogyro Project

The VSKYLABS Autogyro Project: 'Cricket'
Current Version: XP11 / 10.51 - 003.3

Update Log:
  • MAJOR Update release (22nd Feb 2017):
    • Additional model for X-Plane 11 is included.
    • Current version is 003.3
    • Ground handling fix handling for the X-Plane 10.51 version.
    • Important note: Creating authentic autogyro simulation of a lightweight physical body in the advanced simulation environment of X-Plane 11 is quite challenging. The Autogyro version for X-Plane 11 is still under flight-handling assessment process, and further updates to the flight model should be expected within the next few weeks.
  • MAJOR Update release (20th December 2016):
    • This update is for X-Plane 10.51, and it is a part of the preparations for upgrading to X-Plane 11. 
    • Autogyros models cannot be flown in the current X-Plane 11 beta version due to a known bug. This bug was reported and should be fixed in one of the next Beta releases of X-Plane 11. 
    • Current version is: 10.51-003.2
    • Update information: 
      • 3D model engineering update and refurbish (including fuselage, cockpit, textures, object structure arrangements for the future XP11 upgrade (plus added a minor fix to the rotor blades 3D model).
      • Flight model refinements: rotor tip weights adjusted and the autogyro is now preset with automatic trim to pitch loads, therefore letting the pilot fly more intuitively with a joystick: once a nose-attitude is set and hold for a few seconds, the autogyro will reduce pitch moments and eliminate the need for manual pitch-trim.
      • Cockpit update.
      • Systems updates: new X-Plane GPS 530.

So, I've decided to build an Autogyro in X-Plane...and I fell in love!
Although I new a lot about these flying machines, I never thought it will be so amazing flying it, controlling it, skim along the terrain for sightseeing and landing it. This flying machine provides the most fun, thrill and challenge you can squeeze from X-Plane. 

The VSKYLABS Autogyro project is definitely going to be a multi-aircraft project, with several types of Gyroplanes.

The First Autogyro to introduce in the project is a lightweight Autogyro, which is in general based on the Bensen B-8 Autogyro (as well as Nasa's X-25A Autogyro). Tail section design was modified, making the Autogyro longer, and with a Tail-wheel underneath the extended boom.


What is an Autogyro?
An autogyro features a free-spinning rotor that turns because of passage of air through it.  The downward component of the airflow through the rotor gives lift for the vehicle, and sustains the autogyro in the air. A separate propulsion unit (usually propeller driven) provides forward thrust, and can be placed in a tractor configuration with the engine and propeller at the front of the fuselage, or pusher configuration with the engine and propeller at the rear of the fuselage.

Controls of an Autogyro:
There are three primary flight controls:
  • Control stick.
  • Rudder pedals.
  • Throttle.
Typically, the control stick tilts the rotor in both axes to provide pitch and roll control, but there are Autogyros which do not tilt the rotor at all, or only doing that one dimension, Such Autogyros have conventional control surfaces. Rudder pedals provide yaw control, and the throttle controls engine power for forward thrust.

Most autogyros features a system called "pre-rotate", which when engaged drives the top rotor to start spinning before takeoff. 

Autogyros usually doesn't features Collective pitch controls, but it can be found on some Autogyro aircraft. Unlike a helicopter, common Autogyros need a runway to take off; however, they are capable of landing with a very short or zero ground roll. 

Controlling an Autogyro:

  • Pulling back on the stick tilts the rotor back, increasing lift and decreasing forward airspeed.
  • Pushing forward on the stick decreases lift and increases airspeed. 
  • The rudder pedals move the rudder on the vertical stabilizer and also control the nose gear, making it possible to steer the Autogyro on the ground, while taxiing...
  • Throttle for the engine, as in any conventional, fixed wing aircraft.

Takeoff procedure:
To take off the rotor must be pre-rotated to produce enough lift and stability during the takeoff run. Trying to lift of an Autogyro with its rotor not rotating fast enough will usually end up in a crash, or a very long runway. In small Autogyros, pre-rotation is usually done by using a small electric driven engine, but there are other methods as well (even rotation by hand). Once the rotor is up to speed, the pre-rotator must be disengaged and the Autogyro is ready for brake release and takeoff run, to be lifted by autorotation of the rotor.

Landing procedure:
When power is reduced, the forward speed decreases and the Autogyro goes into a steady descent path. The lifting force is not enough to maintain altitude, but even when the engine at Idle or even stopped, The Autogyro will descend and land safely (this aspect is an advantage over the helicopter. The helicopter's pitch angle of the rotors is ~11 degrees, and without power, Drag will quickly get them stopped, or slowed down, unless the pilot quickly reduces the pitch angle the rotor blades so that the rotor autorotates).

X-Plane Flying Instructions:

Recommended Field-Of-View setting is 65-95 Degrees:
The Autogyro is a very intuitive flying machine, with minimal cockpit. Mostly recommended is to set the Field of view to 65-95 degrees, and "feel" the Autogyro motion as you fly, especially in low-level, sight seeing flights. The actual pilot POV was set to be slightly lower to make it comfortable to see the panel while flying. NOTE: You can toggle the Field-Of-View by pressing the Smartphone screen!

Before Takeoff:
  1. Taxi slowly to the Take-off spot.
  2. Apply Brakes.
  3. Pre-rotate switch to "ON".
  4. Wait for the Rotor to rotate and stabilize. Usually it takes 10-15 seconds.
  5. You can "help" the main Rotor to reach the needed rotation speed by gently advancing the throttle to ~30%.
  6. When the RPM of the main rotor (Yellow needle in the RPM gauge) reaches ~160 RPM, it is safe to proceed to the Takeoff procedure down bellow.
  7. CAUTION: Do not throttle up the engine while Pre-rotate switch is "ON". Torque moments might cause the Autogyro to crash while on the ground. 
Pre-Rotate is NOT engaged

Pre-Rotate is engaged and rotor RPM is ~160


  1. Pre-rotate switch to "OFF". Do not wait too much after switching it to off so it won't slow down too much.
  2. Release the Brakes and apply full power for Takeoff.
  3. Pull the stick as you start running and gently keep the Takeoff run straight using the Rudder (it is very effective so be gentle).
  4. Expect liftoff at ~20-30 knots.
  5. As the Autogyro is airborne, push the stick forward and let the Autogyro to gain airspeed before starting a climb or other maneuvers. 
  1. Pretty much like a conventional fixed-wing aircraft.
  2. Use rudder for coordinated turns.
  3. Use rudder for tight maneuvers.
  4. If you fly slow - make sure you gain speed before attempting to do "something stupid" ;)
  5. Flight envelope: 45 knots is a good airspeed for cruise.
  1. Fly the Autogyro to the desired landing area.
  2. Enter a final leg, maintain reasonable airspeed and sink rate (not below 20 knots and not above 40). Final approaches may be steep enough to overcome obstacles.
  3. Just as you a low enough (20 feet or so), pull the stick gently for slowing down. Judge for zero airspeed just before touching down. This "exercise" requires some practice, but it is very easy and controllable situation.



  1. Bought this one and I really want to recommend it. An autogyro is quite another experience and this model simulates that rather well. Very fun to fly once you master it.

    1. Thanks!
      This package is going to have another update during the next couple of weeks. It will include an additional model for X-Plane 11.

      Thanks again :)

      I think, this ultralight helicopter will be very interesting...

  2. Sorry I can't load link and picture in the post...


  4. Hi, this is an amazing little gyro and very fun to fly! Thanks a lot! I tested the latest version 003.3 on X-Plane 11. I'm missing one thing in the flight model: Every gyro "doesn't like" negative g-forces. If you are in a climb for example and push the stick hard forward, the rotor rpm will drop dramatically and causes a very dangerous situation. Maybe you could have a look at it in your next update of this model.
    If you're planing creating your next autogyro model please have a look at the Cavalon (side-by-side) from the german manufacturer "Auto-Gyro":
    Thanks a lot and best regards from Germany!

    1. Hi!
      Thanks for the great feedback :)

      I got your note regarding the negative g-force rotor rpm characteristics. X-Plane flight dynamics model deals fairly with the raise in rpm in a positive g, but it seems that in the lightweight autogyro, the reduction in the rotor's rpm in a negative g is quite low. I will investigate this behavior with heavier autogyro settings (including the variables of the main rotor), to see if I can induce this behavior when pushing the stick aggressively.

      one of the principles in my projects is that I'm not using any external plugins to enhance the flight dynamics model as it is "out of the box" in X-Plane. I hope that I will find a way to get this particular aspect of the autogyro's flight envelope covered more precise.

      The Cavalon is a great candidate for future autogyro project. I wrote it down as a special request ;)

      Thanks again for your feedback!



X-Plane Prototype VSKYLABS Experimental Delta wing Microlight Ultralight Home built VSKYLABS 'Scratch Built RC Legends' project Canards Light aircraft Navy Stealth Supersonic Afterburner Aircraft carrier Ducted fan F-19 Stealth Fighter HUD Turbojet AGM-65 C-5 CIA F-18 Hornet F404 Laser guided Pulse jet Reconnaissance SR-71 3D cokpit AIM-120 AMRAAM AOA Air racing Aircraft performance Autopilot Bush plane Buzz bomb C-47 Canard Counter rotating Dog fight Electric F-117A Ferry fuel tank Fixed landing gears G load General Electric J-85. Turbojet Giant scale Glider High Alpha Holy smoke Interception Italeri Jet Leading edge flaps Lockheed constellation Mach 2 Maneuver Model kit Nitro Plastic models RC RC gliders RC models Radio controlled Ram jet Reciprocating engine Research Rocket SU-33. F-22 Scratch built Simulation Skunk works Testors Trike Turbine V-1 Valveless pulse jet XB-70 YF-12A aircraft AMP-100 Aerodynamic heating Aeropro Aerotrek Alaska Alternair Andre Tucart Angle of attack Autogyro Barnaby Wainfan Bensen B-8 Bird of prey Boeing Bristol Siddeley Viper 9 Buggy Cockpit Comet Concorde Corner speed DH.88 Dutch roll Eurofox External fuel tank F-16XL FMS FMX-4 Facetmobile Fighter Flex wing Flight envelope Float plane Fly by wire GPS Gee Bee Gee Bee R3 General Aviation Goblin Golden age Green Griffon 1500 Griffon 2 Griffon II Grumman Gyrocopter HP 115 Handley Page. Research Hang glider High altitude High performance Highly detailed IAI Interceptor Israeli air force J-79 Jetpack Kfir Kfir TC2 Knife edge LSA Landing gears Lifting body Lightning Lockheed Low aspect ratio MFD Mach 3 McDonnell Douglass McDonnell XF-85 Mirage 5 Mirage III Missile Model AP-57 Motorized NDB Nasa X-25A Navigation Nord Griffon P-38 Parasite Pre rotate Private transportation PulseJet propulsion for Ultralight aircraft RC airstrip Racing Republic Rotax 503 Rotax 912 Rotor wing SLSA SNECMA Atar STOL Sailplane Single engine Sky rocket Slender wing Spoilers Stato Reacteur Stealth fighter Stratosphere TCAS The 'FireFlash' Plausibility Report Thunderwarrior Trans Atlantic Tumbling Turbofan USAF VOR VSKYLABS Martin Marietta X-24A VSKYLABS NASA'S M2-F1 VSKYLABS Northrop M2-F2 VSKYLABS RC F40&Countach VSKYLABS Reviews VSKYLABS UL-104 J/R WW2 Warhead Weapon bays Weight shifting Westinghouse J34-WE-7 Williams FJ44-4 Wooden aircraft XF-103 XF5F XJ-67-W-1 a-12 balloon wheels brushless cruise daedalus 88 de Havilland flight path guidance personal powered projectile recharge rocket belt stall subsonic surface to air tail dragger tail wheel utility vertical stabilizer