The Gyrocopter Experience
From Ecuador to Costa Rica PDF Print E-mail

On the 3rd?June I arrived in Ecuador to introduce the Cavalon to several different agencies of the government.??The Cavalon was shipped brand new from Germany to Guayaquil and even though it was addressed to the military agency, it took much longer to release from customs than estimated.??The gyro finally arrived at Tara Airbase at 10pm in the evening and by 2am it was ready to fly.??In the morning I started the first test flights?under?the sceptical?eyes?ofthe?military pilots?and it was clear that they would never exchange their fighter for a Gyro. Luckily it was the ground troops who were organizing the demos and their interest was mainly?ground Surveillance?and that is exactly what the gyro can do.

My first destination departing from Taura Airbase was Manta where the president Rafael Correa was attending a meeting with his cabinet. We were lucky that the beautiful red Cavalon attracted him and so he was happy to sit inside to check it out.??From Manta I flew back to the International airport of Guayaquil, the second busiest airport in Ecuador, and they treated me like a helicopter because they had never seen a Gyro before.??Again I was stationed overnight in the barracks and I was surprised that even there on Saturday night a huge party was taking place.??It was actually the first time in my life that I was residing in military camps but I must say that they had great accommodation and good food.

Next day we headed towards Texsera, the only UL club in the area. Unfortunately the mayor was trying?to expropriate the owner and the result of the fight was a bulldozer destroying parts of the runway and most of the hangers!??We were due to meet high-ranking officials who were interested in using the gyro for border control.??From there we headed towards Santa Rosa located close to the boarder with Peru??We flew near the coast line with huge shrimp farms and Banana plantations.??Huge areas where covered with water and not really designed for emergency landings.??Santa Rosa has 60,000 inhabitants and a huge, brand-new and beautiful Airport where we met again with officials from military and customs.??Their intention is to observe the border with Peru where lots of smugglers operate.??The procedure for doing all the demo flights was very easy, I had to file a single flight plan which covered me.??Sometimes I did up to 25 x 10 minutes flight at just one spot.??From there we had planned a visit at a military base in Portoviejo.??The map showed a pretty nice runway but unfortunately this public runway was closed and I had to do my demonstration at a nearby 280m helicopter platform. Here I did at least 100 roundtrips with officials, all of whom were relatively slight it was not stressful to make a passenger selection according weight and balance.??

From Portoviejo I was headed toward Santa Domingo, my last destination in the flatlands. Santa Domingo is located in front of the Andes with an elevation of 2,000ft and often gets low clouds due to the warm and humid wind heading towards the mountains.??I was very lucky that I could take off the next morning with blue skies on this important leg and for my safety I had an oxygen bottle accompanying me.??Before T/O I had readjusted the prop to be perfect for my destination Ambato in 9,000Ft elevation. The climb was much easier than I thought and the view was incredible.??You climb to 12,500 ft to reach a valley and you are still surrounded with mountains another 5 ? 8,000Ft higher covered with snow and ice!!!

Flying along the valley I had to cross another ridge covered in clouds forcing me to climb up to 14,500ft and there I was happy that I had the oxygen bottle with me!??My demonstrations in Ambato and Quito were my most exciting flights.??If you want to stay alive in these altitudes you have to watch the OAT very carefully, Winds and weight of your aircraft and I was happy that I was flying with the big rotor over there.??In Ambato they installed a FLIR camera at the gyro which was fully operated by a truck based operation station. I had just to fly heading and altitude and they received the pictures in real time.

Ambato was the aviation test location for the military. Beside drones, they were operating fixed wing UL?s, and a real, huge remote controlled Zeppelin. There I met Uwe and his father who is the Rotax rep. in Ecuador and an extremely nice and helpful.??He had to change the clutch of my 914 according the SB issued by Rotax.??Unfortunately there are not many runways for LSA operation and the only place I like to mention is Leicas in the south of Quito where most of the UL`s in the area are based.

I was pretty happy leaving this area and I had never in my live dreamed so much about flying than during these days in the mountains.??Coming back to Santa Domingo this time was overcast with some tiny holes allowing a Gyro to make a safe descent.??From there a friend of mine Mucki was continuing the journey towards Costa Rica.??Last stop in Ecuador was Esmeralda where I was demonstrating for an Oil company and the local mayor. Finishing the last Demo flight we were starting immigration and customs to leave Ecuador. It took us a few hours but at 1pm we were ready to leave. To enter Colombia legally you have to arrive via an international airport ? we selected Cali. We had first a very nice flight along the coast and it did look wild but not dangerous.??The only dangerous thing was a huge thunderstorm which we had to circumnavigate?and this extended our regular route of three hours by another 40 minutes.??Prior arriving in Cali we had to cross the mountains again but with 8-9,000ft we cleared every obstacle by at least 2,000 ft.

We had a very sweet arrival in Cali with the handling agent Hary, the German Consul Gerhard and the owner of a flight school Monica.??They collectively made our stay in Cali a nice vacation. The climate and the surrounding is just incredible.??People are very nice and helpful and we had a good time especially when Columbia won the footbal game against Brazil!??The only difficult part was to receive the permission to fly within Colombia.??Although I had applied for this permission 2 weaks before it was a huge hassle and I was happy once we received it.??We were supposed to fly from Cali to Medelin but receiving the permission finally at 4pm we decided during the flight to deviate to Pereira. This prosperous town in the middle of huge coffee and sugar cane farms was a good alternative and as well we could do immigration the next morning to leave to Panama.??We were allowed to land in Careipa the last big runway at the Caribbean near the border for re-fueling ? which was fun because the airport sent the huge firetruck?complete with uniformedfirefighters to empty the jerry cans in the Cavalon.??The invoice for this service was not too much fun!??Because of weather and time we had to stay overnight and there were no problems that we had already our exit stamp in the passport.? Next morning started with a heavy Caribbean rain and after the weather had passed through we decided to fly along the coast to Panama.?Cloud base was 1,000ft and we were flying 2.5 hours in the same weather conditions along the coast.??I was definitely nervous to fly so low but in fact after 30 minutes in the air and just crossing the border to Panama we were happy to be in the air. From there we had miles of beautiful Sun Blas Islands along the route and every 5 minutes a huge airfield either on the mainland or on one of the islands. The cloud base did not change a single foot but as well there was no single rain drop coming out of them.

Our flightplan was filled to Panama city airport Gilabert but being unable to cross the mountains with this cloud base we decided to land in Porvenir. Radar were not very happy about our decision on an international flight but they agreed that safety is first and once we landed we were directly checked by police based on the island.??Twenty minutes later we were released to enjoy our vacation. We would have loved to stay some days over there but the next morning arrived with blue skies and we had to show up in Panama City. Because of a good connection to the aviation authorities we received our permission to fly in the country directly and we could continue our journey to David, the last stop prior entering home country.

Another perfect evening in a beautiful resort at the beach near David and on the next morning we took off towards destination ?home?.??I must say that we had a really cool journey,? Paperwork, Drug control procedures was sometimes too much but all these countries are suffering drug criminality.??I am planning to organize tours in the future towards South America with maybe three Gyro?s.??Every group will stay 10 days in one country and will have to cross just one border.??From what I have seen so far all these countries have lots of beautiful attractions to enjoy a very exclusive flying vacation. If you are interested please contact me:? This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ?and check as well our great flying opportunities in Costa Rica.