(view from above) Controlling the Direction of the Airframe & Rotor Disc on a Gyroplane (view from above)
control input illustration ©©
bit   (rudder pedal control is exaggerated for illustration)    
sky sign showing gyroplane passing  

Controlling a gyroplane in flight is different
to controlling an aeroplane.

In a fixed wing aeroplane the pilot is only concerned with the direction and speed of one element: the body of the aeroplane. In a gyroplane the pilot is concerned with the direction and speed of two elements: the body of the gyroplane and the rotating disc overhead.

The overhead rotors form the auto-rotating disc at high speed. The joystick (green) controls the disc, which is what is being flown in a gyroplane. The rudder pedals control yaw (left and right) direction of the slung airframe under the disc. Keeping the airframe pointed in the same direction of travel as the disc, keeps the joystick inputs true.

The safety comes in keeping the rotor disc "loaded" which keeps rpm up and pilot control. "Loaded" means keeping air flowing up through the rotor disc and the "slung weight" under the rotor, constant. It is preferable to circle in quick turns than slow down air speed to remain over a ground location. If the wind is constant in one direction and the gyroplane is pointed into the wind then a slow level position can be maintained over a ground location. But any attempt to reverse direction from that condition can result in a sudden drop in altitude and loss of rotor speed. Before changing direction from a "hover" in high wind conditions, the gyroplane should first increase forward air speed to gain rotation energy.

Side slip manoeuvre* can be used in a descent by reducing engine rpm to idle and using the joystick in a manner of making right stick input "nose up" position. This has the effect of using the joystick control rotated 90 degrees right of where it should be and using the left side of the gyroplane as "front". Engine power must not be used during the descent until ready to resume normal forward direction (90 degrees right of a left side slip manoeuvre) where use of the joystick resumes input back to forward direction of airframe. Full engine power corrects side slip to forward motion. High level of pilot skill is required.
Side slip manoeuvre is not recommended close to the ground during landing.

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What role does engine thrust play in gyroplane flight?

In a gyroplane, the engine speed is constantly being adjusted, unless on a long straight path.
For instance, when descending and making at tight turn near the end of the descent, the engine would be at much lower rpm than coming out of the turn and flying straight and level. Power would be applied half way through the tight turn.

When flying full power in an ascent and then making a transition quickly to descent, the gyroplane pilot would make a turn then reduce engine rpm and, then increase engine rpm near the the bottom of the descent in transition to level flight. Making a turn for a descent in this manner keeps the rotors "loaded". This is accomplished using the weight of the airframe. The power from the engine is to get rudder control. This is preferable to executing a nose down manoeuvre to descend.
Making gyroplane turns at the same continuing altitude would not require a change in engine rpm at a good air speed.

Trim flight is accomplished using the gyroscopic effect of the rotor disc in addition to a balance of engine thrust, disc angle and air flow over the airframe. Usually achievable only in calm air. You should be able to fly straight and level with no pilot inputs (hands off). But it's not a perfect world for flying and gusty conditions would require minor pilot inputs. This can get tiring on a long flight. Hence the use of a stabilator wing to automatically make trim adjustments.

Note: only a CFI can teach gyroplane manoeuvres correctly and safely. * Used in a situation such as descending into a canyon from the side to keep the nose of the airframe pointed in the direction of travel on resuming forward flight at the lower level. This eliminates the challenge of a turn in a tight area.