The VSKYLABS B-8M Gyrocopter Project

Highly realistic lightweight Gyroplane simulation

For X-Plane 11

The VSKYLABS B-8M Gyrocopter Project

The VSKYLABS VSL B-8M Gyrocopter Project is a highly accurate light weight Gyroplane flight dynamics and handling simulation, designed for X-Plane 11.

Project main features:

  • Highly accurate and realistic simulation of a lightweight Gyrocopter (B-8M design).
  • Full VR compatibility with X-Plane 11.
  • FMOD sounds.
  • Perfect for sight-seeing, tight places operations and bush-flying operations.

VSKYLABS B-8M General Information

The VSKYLABS VSL B-8M Gyrocopter design is based on the general design features of the Bensen B-8M / X-25A Gyrocopter. Some design modifications were made to the tail section, which was redesigned with a longer tail-boom to improve lateral stability in the low-airspeed flying regime.

The VSKYLABS VSL B-8M Gyrocopter is propelled by a 45 hp 1/2 (half) VW engine, which is in general a twin cylinder, four stroke, horizontally opposed, air cooled, direct drive engine design based on the Volkswagen air-cooled engine.

What is an Gyroplane/Autogyro?

It is a flying machine which is using a rotary wing (main rotor) to provide lift. However, and unlike a conventional helicopter, the rotor is fixed with a free-spinning mechanism and it is not powered by the engine.

What makes the rotor spin in an Autogyro is the aerodynamic forces of the airflow which is moving through the rotor disc, in a phenomenon called 'Auto-rotation'. A separate propulsion source is required for forward flight.

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 it in a single axis. such Autogyros are having conventional control surfaces. Rudder pedals provide yaw control, and the throttle controls engine power for forward thrust. In many cases, Autogyros are designed with pusher-propeller configuration to allow higher stability and effectiveness of the Rudder due to prop-wash.

Pre-rotation mechanism:

Some Autogyros features a system called "pre-rotation". When engaged, drives the main rotor to start spinning before takeoff. This initial spin is crucial for the takeoff procedure as there is no available lift when the main rotor is not spinning or spinning very slowly. It can also reduce the take-off run significantly. In Autogyros that are not having a pre-rotation system, the pilot is getting the needed pre-rotation by doing it manually, using his hands, prior to takeoff.

Controlling an Autogyro during flight:

  • Pulling back on the stick tilts the rotor back, increasing lift and decreasing forward airspeed.
  • Pushing the stick forward decreases lift and increases airspeed. Because the changes of lift vectors, pulling or pushing the stick will result in a nose attitude change (pitch up/pitch down).
  • The rudder pedals moves the rudder on the vertical stabilizer. The VSKYLABS VSL B-8M Gyrocopter is featuring differential brakes for ground operations, and in addition, it is also featuring a slight nose gear steering ability.
  • Throttle is for the engine, as in any conventional, fixed wing aircraft.

Taking off with an Autogyro:

The rotor must be pre-rotated to produce enough lift and stability during the takeoff run. Trying to lift an Autogyro off the ground with its rotor not rotating fast enough will usually end up in a crash, or in a very long takeoff run. In small Autogyros, pre-rotation is usually done by using an auxiliary, small motor. There are other methods as well (even rotation by hand). Once the rotor is up to speed, the pre-rotation motor must be disengaged and the Autogyro is ready for brake release and takeoff run, to be lifted by autorotation of the rotor.

Pre-rotation: The VSKYLABS VSL B-8M Gyrocopter is utilizing the main engine for pre-rotation of the main rotor, by the use of a Clutch. Engaging the Clutch will result in engine's RPM reduction and excessive torque until the main rotor exceeds the needed RPM.

Caution: Do not throttle up the engine above 1400 RPM while the Pre-rotation (Clutch) is engaged. It may result with an excessive torque forces which may lead to an uncontrolled spin and crash.

Landing procedure:

When power is reduced, forward speed bleeds off and the Autogyro goes into a steady descent path. In this situation, lifting force is not enough to maintain altitude, but even when the engine is in Idle rpm or even shut-down, the Autogyro can descend and land safely. It cannot stall due to low airspeed, however, low rotor RPM during flight can lead to insufficient stability and control to maintain flight.