TINY aircraft resembling helicopters dotted the sky above Wondai at the weekend as gyroplane enthusiasts took off for the Australian Sports Rotocraft Association Easter Nationals.

Up to 100 pilots and their planes came from as far away as Victoria and north-west Queensland for the yearly meet.

Former commercial pilot Allan Wardill was on hand to offer training flights on the gyroglider, an unpowered gyroplane pulled down the runway behind a ute.

Former commercial pilot Allan Wardill teaches the flying basics on the Gyro glider.
Former commercial pilot Allan Wardill teaches the flying basics on the Gyro glider. Tessa Mapstone

South East Queensland Gyroplane Club's Darrell Jones said flying the glider gave budding pilots the opportunity to learn and practise controlling the unique craft.

"The speed the ute has to get up to for lift-off depends on the weight in the machine, but it can get up to 80kmh," he said.

"You can actually feel - if you're driving the car -you can feel it pull back as the gyroglider lifts up."

"They actually used them in World War II on the Nazi submarines.

"They pulled them out and used them as observation towers."

Mr Jones said the rotor-driven craft had the advantage over winged planes of being able to land almost within their own length.

It was clear sailing for Gyroplane pilots at Wondai as the weekend came to a close.
It was clear sailing for Gyroplane pilots at Wondai as the weekend came to a close. Tessa Mapstone

What is a gyroplane?

  • An aircraft that gets lift from a freely turning rotary wing on top, and thrust from an engine-driven propeller.
  • The club meets at Wondai Airport on the second full weekend of each month (except April). Trial flights are available for $50. Phone Darrell for more information on 4163 5175.
Former commercial pilot Allan Wardill teaches the flying basics on the Gyro glider.
Former commercial pilot Allan Wardill teaches the flying basics on the Gyro glider. Tessa Mapstone
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