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gyroplane flying in formation *1

Flying Formation
Synchronised Bird Flightbit

Originally posted in 2005 (with revisions 2009)

Have you ever witnessed three hundred birds
flying wing tip to wing tip, across a wheat field,
around an oak tree and back over your automobile?


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Bird Flight

It must be easier to understand from a single bird's point of view. We see the whole three hundred moving as one. It looks complicated. From a bird's point of view there is only the tail of the bird in front. The entire focus of each bird is fixed on one set of tail feathers. Visually controlled reflexes keeps each bird on the same course as it's leader. Who's guiding the group in synchronised flight? How do they land without colliding?
The answer is not as complicated as you may think. Put yourself in the drivers seat of an automobile, travelling 100 km per hour (60 miles per hour), in a pack of forty vehicles speeding down the highway to Hamilton. Someone in the group touches their brakes and what happens? Everyone behind that vehicle brakes. We do instinctively what the birds do. The birds do what the fish do. A flock of sheep moving across a pasture into a corral do it all the time.
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Reflex action replaces conscious thought and reasoning. Why bring this up? Most of the airline industry and private aircraft do not fly this way. They use logically conscious thought and miles of airspace to fly. Still there are collisions between two aircraft. Local commutes in gyroplane will require that groups of three, seven or eleven (choose your numbers) move in synchronised flight. It's not as difficult as you would imagine. We do it in cars already. We can do it in gyroplanes, better. The same technology used in aircraft, in Alaska, can be used to group three or more gyroplanes together under the control of one lead gyroplane.
The Snowbirds* do it wing tip to wing tip. Gyroplanes don't need to be that close. Gyroplanes could manage the same synchronised flight leaving two complete rotor blade widths distance. This could also be achieved in 3 dimensions rather than 2 dimensions as the Snowbirds do. Just remove the human reflex for a remote controlled reflex link between gyroplanes. It's not 'far fetched'. How does that prevent head on collisions? See this page -> controlling airspace
I've always imagined three separate circuit boards, capable of their own computations, operating the autopilot of a gyroplane. Two must always agree, (to adjust the gyroplanes movements). This allows for a vast decrease in error. Complete lack of agreement between the three boards would put the aircraft back into the hands of the gyroplane driver.
Direct rotor control requires an interface with control rods or torque tube. Dynamic trim from a pilot controlled airfoil provides a simplistic alternative to a computer and sensors.
Revisions: * Canadian Airshows Flying Squadron.
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