Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

The EUR65,000 Cavalon side-by-side, fully-enclosed gyrocopter


April 19, 2011

Auto-gyro's Cavalon at Aero Friedrichshafen this week

Auto-gyro's Cavalon at Aero Friedrichshafen this week

Image Gallery (8 images)

The newest addition to the gyrocopter genre arrived at Aero Friedrichshafen this week in the form of a side-by-side, fully-enclosed, composite construction Cavalon gyrocopter. The gyrocopter is to the helicopter what the microlight is to traditional small aircraft. Invented in 1923 by Spaniard Juan de la Cierva, the gyrocopter uses quite a different layout to the helicopter to give it stability at low speed. It is cheap to run, takes off and lands on a ridiculously small footprint, and has a powered pusher propeller in addition to an unpowered main rotor.

Certification for the EUR65,000 Cavalon is almost complete in Germany and France, and AutoGyro will assist with certification documentation for other countries. Additionally, there are still ten units up for grabs in this year's production run.

Auto-gyro's Cavalon

The closest competitor to the Cavalon is the Xenon gyrocopter built in Poland, though the Xenon has the one-axle cyclic control while the Cavalon has a two-stick arrangement and the Cavalon stores its fuel outside the cabin.

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I wonder what they mean by "unpowered main rotor". That can't be right.

20th April, 2011 @ 07:13 am PDT

An explanation of the difference between one-axle and two-axle cyclic control would be interesting. I searched, and found a forum covering largely the same points as this page.


20th April, 2011 @ 07:41 am PDT

Gyro Copters are not like helicopters. The "unpowered main rotor" or, the large rotor on top of the craft, is powered by the wind moving across the blades. As described in the article, the "push" propeller behind the passengers provides thrust. As the aircraft is pushed forward, the main rotor begins to spin and provide lift. One of the advantages of a Gyro Copter is that, since the main lift rotor is not dependent upon the engine for power, if you were to run out of gas or encounter a catastrophic problem with the "push" rotor, the copter will not plummet to the ground. Rather, it will "float" down as the wind continues to provide lift. Without the push rotor, the craft will descend sharply, but you could land it relatively easily, providing there is hard earth underneath you! Also, much of the noise from helicopters is from the rear, smaller vertical rotor. A gyro copter does not have one of those either, making them somewhat quieter. Most push rotors can do the job with only about 90-120 horsepower making them very efficient.

20th April, 2011 @ 09:29 am PDT

To Brillig:

The main rotor doesn't have power, but it spins and gives lift when the pusher motor pushes the gyrocopter down a short runway.

It's not like a helicopter that can go straight up. A gyrocopter needs some runway about 75 feet.

Look up gyrocopter on YouTube, and you can see them taking off and landing.

20th April, 2011 @ 09:35 am PDT

@Brillig - its true!

An autogyro rotor is not powered. Its still a rotating wing that provides lift. It only needs to be "started", and in some older models, I understand the thing is started by giving the rotor a shove by hand. I saw one (Wallis -type as in James Bond movie version) at an air show. The rider moved it slowly, kind of sideways along the crowd front, with his hands clasped above his head. It steers by "leaning over", somewhat like riding a bike, though I guess this 2-seater probably has a more developed control scheme.

20th April, 2011 @ 09:44 am PDT

an un-powered rotor may not sound right, but it works well. It's an airfoil -- like a wing -- and it provides lift when it moves through air but while a wing moves with an airplane, at exactly the same speed as the plane, an unpowered rotor relative to the plane -- almost as though it were flying in circles around the plane -- so it goes much faster than the gyrocopter and the gyrocopter can take off, fly and land at much lower speeds than a fixed-wing plane.

20th April, 2011 @ 10:13 am PDT

I think the correct, or alternative name for this aircraft is 'Autogiro', and Wing Commander Wallis is [or was], the holder of the world altitude record.

20th April, 2011 @ 11:23 am PDT

Some gyrocopters also have a pre-rotation system that allows almost vertical takeoff by spinning up the rotor prior to takeoff. It's usually hydraulic or pneumatic.

McCulloch built a certified model, the J2, back in the early 70s. I saw it fly a few times.


20th April, 2011 @ 12:51 pm PDT

It might help to get a feel for the physics of the rotor by thinking of a maple (?) seed falling to the ground with a single blade and the seed at the axis. The falling motion makes it spin and the spin gives it lift. If you add power to such a system the lift can exceed gravity's downward pull. That''s how I think of them anyway.

20th April, 2011 @ 02:10 pm PDT

To be honest Gyrocopters are so much safer then actual helicopters.

That said gyrocopters are super cheap and simple, i like the idea of enclosing it for aerodynamics, but it really isn't going to improve anything. it takes away the whole point of a gyro, they are simple, fun, wind i your face, toys.

They have many advantages over ultralights, but they are less practical in many ways..

I could be wrong, perhaps this thing has a range that elevates it above a toy, but I doubt it..

I look forward to seeing a video and hoping I am wrong.

Facebook User
20th April, 2011 @ 05:22 pm PDT

The correct generic term for a rotorcraft with an unpowered main rotor is "autogyro." "Gyrocopter" is a registered trademark devised by Igor Bensen, who started the modern teetering-rotor autogyro movement in the late Fifties. Many machines of his design, and many more derived from his designs, are flying today.

Typical aircraft L/D for a "good" autogyro is 5:1 at cruise speeds on the order of 110 knots, which means that they will not set the world on fire. Still, it is possible to provide one with adequate cruising range, and projects are now ongoing (Groen brothers, Carter) to achieve over 7:1 at much higher cruise speeds. Add the capacity to land vertically, and even to take off vertically if "jump" takeoff capability is provided, and you have a highly competent aircraft, lacking only the ability to hover, yet costing a fraction of what an equivalent helicopter costs to buy and to maintain.

If they were better understood they would be much more popular and more widely used.

20th April, 2011 @ 07:59 pm PDT


Helicopters do not just fall out of the sky if the engine fails, they auto rotate in exactly the same manor as a Gyro Copter glides in the same situation.

20th April, 2011 @ 10:11 pm PDT

I don't believe the gyro is providing "lift" in the way a powered blade does. It's tilted backwards and turning because air is moving through it, albeit at an angle. It's actually going backwards compared to the powered one. The magic is in the fact that it's simply acting like a normal wing, and the rotation exposes it to a large area of air, more effectively than even a giant disc shaped wing above the machine.

22nd April, 2011 @ 02:11 am PDT

mac#? built by chain saw co, in la,calif. was to be available for 2 of us ww2 vets, 1 for use in fairbanks, ak and one in la basin(socal) my co-conspirator came to la/mines fld, to test for our business use. this was in late 1961 or early 1962. was in factory hanger. i think $ about $10K, but don't really remember. as i was "critically injured" in '62 never able to see finished product. in early '70s, had appt to see at "london bridges" mac factory, but our no. american comm'l version p52 blew oil over riverside,ca. and ended that test flight. then mac went bust, bankrupt. so none of us ever saw or flew it. maybe a good result??? my collaborator (a mech/structural/ engineer) and i decided we would design and build a prototype, but he ran off to live and fly comm'l a/c in so.pacific. you shudda seen his princess. i might buy such a craft, i lic/cert in usa and i can get my frame lic.

22nd April, 2011 @ 03:04 am PDT

I think probably 1 of the most stunning machines ever made! I will own 1!! Just a little saving to do 1st ;P

2nd November, 2011 @ 01:51 am PDT

Just don't unweight the rotor...

Mark A
2nd November, 2011 @ 10:00 pm PDT
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