It started out with a recent trip to Albert, France where a friend and a group of his mates have recently taken it upon them selves to buy an 'Autogyro' As you can see from the pictures this basically is a cross between a helicopter and a plane, with two props, one providing the lift and the other thrust.
Now I've been in a few helicopters before but this little thing is beyond cool! Usually the sight of any motor craft without doors, windows or any kind of protection from the elements can be cause for alarm, now take into account this motor craft happens to fly and fly fast should scare the bejesus out of me but I couldn't believe my luck when Christian handed me a helmet and gloves and told me to hop in the back!!!
I'm sitting with the pilot literally a foot in front of me but radio is the only way of communication because of the sheer noise. It buzzes and vibrates which is to be expected with the engine situated only inches behind my head but it's the wind which strikes me the most! it shouldn't come as any surprise really being an open top helicopter but it does, you're right in the firing line of two fast moving props, the main one only a few feet above you blasting down and the slightly smaller but much more rapid one sucking air past you to push the thing forward, it's these assaults on your senses that make this thing so cool, now all we need to do is take off!
We rumble down the runway and before you know it we're up and wafting over the French countryside,
Michel, my pilot doesn't speak much English and I speak even less French so he lets his flying do the talking, zipping along above roads, low through tree lined valleys, high above small villages and generally being fantastic. The rate in which this thing covers ground is deceiving, it can do about 100mph which in something so small is fast but it always feels as if you're just floating along then all of a sudden you're above that building or whatever which was a just spec on the horizon only moments ago, wonderful.
The potential for picture taking as you can imagine is almost limitless which is why I need to convince Alan that the €55,000 (pardon Christian) needed to buy one would be money well spent for our business, oh and of course the hanger to store it in, the small matter of a pilots license, radio license, maintenance costs, fuel etc, mere formalities really, I'm sure he'll come round to the idea.
Anyway massive thanks to Christian, Michel, Isabelle and of course Nathalie for providing such a wonderful experience, Salut!