Frequently Asked Questions

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WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATUS OF THE SPORTCOPTER II PROJECT?
Production is now underway for both fully-finished machines and kits!  If you are interested in purchasing, please let us know and we will forward all detailed information.

THE SPORTCOPTER II BEARS A RESEMBLANCE TO ANOTHER TWO-PLACE MACHINE I'VE SEEN. ARE THEY RELATED?
While there will be certain commonalities in shape among all enclosed, two-place pusher gyroplanes, the Sportcopter II (SCII) shares no parts or design history with machines offered by any other manufacturers.

Under the skin, similar-looking machines may be very different in philosophy and design. One of which we're aware of uses hand-layup fiberglass over a plywood bulkhead, rigid main landing gear with no suspension, and engines sourced from the used auto market. The SCII is built from molded, pre-preg composite body and interior on a welded steel frame.The SCII has landing gear designed with enough travel, and damping to handle rough surfaces.The SCII uses factory-new, professionally prepared engines. The biggest difference is that the SCII comes from Sport Copter, an established company with high standards for manufacturing, and a demonstrated track record in delivering its products to market.

HOW MANY HOURS WILL IT TAKE TO BUILD THE SPORTCOPTER II?
The construction of a SCII from a kit can be expected to take between 200 and 400 hours, depending on options chosen. Customers will do their own metal prep and painting, as is common with most aircraft kits. The kit will be a metal frame with a fully assembled composite monocoque, so no advanced techniques or exotic adhesives will be required for assembly.

CAN I BUY SPORTCOPTER II IN STAGES?
Yes.

IF I BUY A SPORT COPTER, HOW DO I RECEIVE THE KIT?
Our Vortex and Lightning models are normally shipped in three crates via UPS. The Sportcopter II's larger fuselage parts will require delivery by a freight carrier.

REGARDING YOUR PERFORMANCE ESTIMATES FOR SPORTCOPTER II, WHAT ENGINES ARE YOU USING?
 

NEW INFORMATION COMING SOON!

CAN I LEGALLY FLY SPORTCOPTER II AS A LIGHT SPORT AIRCRAFT (LSA)?
We will have an LSA version of the SCII  soon.

WILL THE SPORTCOPTER II OFFER COLLECTIVE PITCH AND BE CAPABLE OF TRUE VERTICAL TAKEOFF?
The SCII will not be offered with fully-articulated rotor or full jump takeoff capability at its introduction, but the improved prerotator and ample power will allow it to take off in a fraction of the roll required by other large two-place machines. The airframe has been designed to allow a possible upgrade to both jump capability, and a three-bladed fully articulated head in the future.

HOW CAN YOU HAVE THE SPORTCOPTER II READY READY FOR INTRODUCTION SO SOON AFTER IT WAS ANNOUNCED?
Modern computer modeling allows very accurate prediction of weight, balance, strength, performance, and other parameters. These newer tools have been used extensively in the design of the SCII. Many major components have accumulated over 500 hours of testing on our Vortex II tandem trainer. This, combined with our years of experience in designing and building gyroplanes is helping us minimize unforeseen design revisions. Provided there are no shortages or delivery delays in the raw materials, we're very confident in our announced timeline.

TRAINING

DO I NEED TRAINING?
Yes! It is strongly recommended you take professional training, either at our training center or somewhere more accessible to your location. Sport Copter does not impose a specific training requirement for purchase of our machines, but training is essential to safe enjoyment of any gyroplane.

CAN I TEACH MYSELF TO FLY?
Absolutely Not! Aircraft of any kind must be taken very seriously and are not intended for the untrained.

I ALREADY HAVE SEVERAL RATINGS. WILL I STILL NEED TRAINING FOR A GYROPLANE?
Yes. Previous training and ratinmgs may reduce the hours required, but the gyroplane is a unique category and class, with flight characteristics different from both fixed-wing and helicopter.

WHERE CAN I FIND GYROPLANE FLIGHT INSTRUCTION?
We highly recommend that you come to Sport Copter for training to fly our products. Two independent Certified Flight Instructors (CFI) are authorized to instruct in our machine, and we also have an FAA Designated Examiner available. In addition to confidence in our own standards of instruction, we have a depth of knowledge about the machines themselves that is unique to the manufacturer. You can find a list of all instructors currently authorized to train under PRA's Exemption 5209 starting from www.pra.org.

Training received from ultralight instructors with AFI or BFI designations usually costs about the same as training with a CFI. Your time with an AFI or BFI does not count toward the FAA's minimum dual training requirements for a rating.

 

CAN YOU TRAIN ME TO FLY OTHER MANUFACTURERS' GYROPLANES?
While our first priority in scheduling is our own customers, we can and do train students who own other machines. In particular, our open-cockpit Vortex II appeals to students who intend to fly open-frame single-place machines.

WHEN DURING THE YEAR IS TRAINING AVAILABLE?
The training season in our climate realistically runs from April through November. Next season, we expect to have the enclosed "Sportcopter II" on line as a trainer, allowing year-round training opportunities.

WHAT DOES TRAINING COST?
Flight training currently costs $150/hour, this includes instructor and machine rental. Contact us with specific training questions: (503) 543-7000.

I HAVE A FRIEND WITH A GYROPLANE. CAN I JUST GET HIM TO TEACH ME?
The FAA appears to be on a course which will eventually require a license to fly any airborne craft. To pursue any FAA rating, you'll need to train with a Certified Flight Instructor.

WHAT WOULD I HAVE TO DO TO BECOME A CERTIFIED FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR?
You'll need to get your private and commercial ratings, some instrument instruction, and pass an additional written test that proves you can teach. To qualify under Exemption 5209 and be paid to instruct in an Experimental gyroplane, you'll need to log a minimum of 100 hours in gyroplanes, and at least 5 hours in the model used for instruction.

I'M 6'4" TALL AND WEIGH 225 POUNDS. CAN YOU TRAIN ME?
Yes. The Sport Copter Vortex II tandem can accommodate students up to 250 pounds in the front seat and remain within balance limits.

I'LL HAVE TO TRAVEL TO OREGON. COULD I BE TRAINED IN A WEEK'S VACATION TIME?
Our experience suggests that to be ready to solo, starting from scratch, typically takes 7 - 17 hours of dual instruction. It is harder than it sounds to get this done in a week, because trying to train more than about two hours a day leaves inadequate time to assimilate what you've learned in a lesson, and study and be fully prepared for the next one. It will be more productive and fun, and usually less costly, to plan your initial training over a period of two weeks.

WHERE CAN I STAY IF I TRAIN IN YOUR AREA?
There are two good options for lodging which offer discounts to Sport Copter students:

The Scappoose Creek Inn (<1 mile from the airport)
$69 - 125/night, includes breakfast
(503) 543-2740
(888) 875-1670

Best Western Inn
St. Helens, OR (9 miles from airport)
$89/night
(503) 397-3000

If you'd like to bring an RV and camp adjacent to the airport:

Scappoose Airport Park
$15/day
(503) 543-3225

I LIVE OUTSIDE THE USA. CAN I GET TRAINING AT SPORT COPTER?
Our Department of Homeland Security now tightly regulates training of foreign citizens in the United States, especially training toward pilot certificates. For recurrent training, the requirements and delays are not burdensome. Contact Sport Copter at (503) 543-7000 and ask to speak with an independent Certified Flight Instructors (CFI) about requirements specific to your circumstances.

WHAT BECAME OF THE FIRST "SPORT COPTER 2"?
The Sport Copter 2 was depicted on the old web site, and featured a tandem seating arrangement, which we believed would be preferred for law enforcement, aerial surveillance, and flight instruction. It has since become clear that the market prefers a side-by-side seating arrangement. Due to customer demand, we're moving forward with the Sportcopter II, which is based on initial concepts developed about the same time as the Sport Copter 2.

GENERAL GYROPLANE QUESTIONS

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE ENGINE FAILS?
The rotors will continue turning and the aircraft will simply glide down no faster than a parachute. The glide ratio is 4 to 1. This means that with the power off, a Sport Copter can glide 4,000 ft. horizontally for every 1,000 ft. it descends. For many experienced pilots, turning the engine off at 1,000 feet and gliding is a fun thing to do!

I WANT TO COMMUTE IN MY SPORT COPTER. CAN I LAND IT AT WORK?
Unlike years past, experimental aircraft, including gyroplanes, are now normally issued operating limitations which allow them to take off and land near populated areas, just as any other aircraft may. The rules for minimum altitude and horizontal distance from buildings and people, etc. during flight are spelled out in the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) section 91.119. Except during takeoff and landing, you must generally avoid flight less than 1,000 feet above or 2,000 feet laterally from man-made objects in congested areas, and no closer than 500 feet from any person in any area.

The exception for takeoff and landing acknowledges that different rules must apply here. If you're taking off and landing on your own property, you have considerable control over these issues. If you're landing on someone else's property you will, at the very least, need to get their written permission. Common sense is required here. If you're endangering persons or property during takeoff and landing, you are creating ill will for yourself, gyroplanes and aviation in general. Remember, too, that the property owner must answer to insurance underwriters, and risks denial of a claim or loss of coverage if policy restrictions are ignored.

Landing on public property is subject to rules that vary widely by location. Some areas in the western US have had laws specifically authorizing aircraft to land on county roads when auto traffic allows, while other municipalities do not allow landing on public property. Check local laws in your area.

CAN I CARRY PASSENGERS OR CARGO FOR A FEE IN A SPORT COPTER?
In an experimental or Light Sport Aircraft, you cannot carry persons or cargo for hire. If you are a CFI, yes, you can offer flight training, but if you appear to be doing anything resembling ferrying passengers for hire, courier deliveries, etc., you'll be in trouble. The FAA wants flying for hire done in certificated aircraft.

I LIVE AT 10,000' ELEVATION. CAN I OPERATE A SPORT COPTER HERE?
Our Lightning, powered by the Rotax 503, has been successfully flown to 10,000 feet. The Vortex with a Rotax 582 has been flown to 14,000 feet. These were tests to determine service ceiling, not routine operation for either machine.

You face a couple issues flying from 10,000 feet.

Engine-wise, the best answer would be the Rotax 914 turbo. It's 105 HP continuous rating may seem like overkill for a single-place, but it can make full power at your elevation. On our Vortex model, mounting the Rotax 912 or 914 requires an upgrade to the welded steel mast with integral engine mount. If you decide to go in this direction, get details when you're ready to order.

If you're on a tight budget, you'd need to choose an engine with a large reserve of power at its sea level rating, and provide a means of adjusting the fuel/air mixture to avoid over-rich operation at high altitudes. Most such engine choices would be heavy for single-place machine.

Rotor blades would be set up differently for routine high-altitude use.

It is not difficult to engineer a machine which can fly routinely at your altitude. It is, however, more complicated if you will also want normal performance at low elevations for special events.

The FAA requires that a pilot use supplemental oxygen when flying above 12,500 feet for more than 30 minutes, and at all times above 14,000 feet. Decision-making and cognitive function deteriorates with increasing altitude. You'll need to be especially careful before dawn or after dusk, because night vision begins to deteriorate at density altitudes as low as 5,000 feet.

CAN I USE OTHER ENGINE OPTIONS ON MY VORTEX KIT?

The Vortex does not adapt easily to just any engine.  Others have used alternative engines but please bear in mind…when choosing a new engine design you need to configure all components that will need to be altered/adjusted in order to attach to the engine choice (ie: exhaust system, prerotator, engine mount) and also you have to make sure that the propeller will safely clear the rotors and tail boom and make mast rotor head and control adjustments for the correct center of gravity.  We offer our standard Vortex which is tooled for both the Rotax 582 and the Rotax 912ULS. Any other engine choice would need custom work to retrofit with the airframe and components.

I'VE NEVER SEEN A SPORT COPTER THAT WASN'T WHITE. DO THEY COME IN OTHER COLORS?
The Sport Copter Vortex is usually seen in the white color with blue or gold anodizing supplied by the factory, but it certainly can be painted. The only caution would be to make sure you use a highly visible color scheme. Small gyroplanes can be hard for other pilots to see, and since we're often overtaken by faster aircraft in traffic patterns, we need all the visibility we can get.

The Vortex's partial enclosure comes finished in white gelcoat. Customers have painted them various colors, camoflage, etc. The major frame pieces are finished in white epoxy powdercoat. While it's already a very tough, easy-to-clean finish, the powdercoat does take paint well. Our anodized aluminum surfaces can be special-ordered in several colors.

The rotorblades are finished in white epoxy-urethane paint/sealer, and require special care if repainting. Even small amounts of paint can upset the balance of the rotor system enough to cause unacceptable vibration levels. You'd want to talk with our techs for special instructions before attempting to paint all or part of the blades.

The Sportcopter II will be supplied in a form which allows customers a wide variety of choices in final finishing. We expect we'll see builders customize them in as wide a variety of finished looks as you see on modern fixed-wing kitplanes.

SHOULD I BUILD MY SPORT COPTER AS EXPERIMENTAL AMATEUR BUILT (EAB), OR EXPERIMENTAL LIGHT SPORT AIRCRAFT (ELSA)?
The answer depends on the configuration of the machine, how long you intend to keep it, and other factors.

If you hold an FAA Sport Pilot Certificate, you may seek a logbook endorsement to fly, solo or with a passenger, in any qualifying aircraft, including a gyroplane.

If you hold a Recreational or higher FAA certificate in any category and class, and choose not to renew your third-class medical and fly limited to Sport Pilot privileges, you may fly solo in either EAB or ELSA gyroplanes. To carry a passenger, you'll need to add the category/class rating for Rotorcraft/Gyroplane to your certificate. (If you accumulated at least five hours as pilot-in-command of an experimental gyro between September 1, 2004 and August 31, 2005, you may qualify for a category and class rating limited to that particular model. See FAR 61.63(k).)

The most significant difference between EAB and ELSA is in annual inspection requirements. Builders of both may do their own maintenance. EAB builders may make major repairs and modifications themselves, but ELSA builders need a Light Sport Repairman Certificate with maintenance authorization for some repairs.

The builder of an EAB aircraft can apply for a Repairman's Certificate at the time the aircraft receives its airworthiness inspection, which allows him to perform his own annual inspections. Any future owner will be required to have the annual inspections done by an FAA-certified Airframe & Powerplant mechanic with Inspection Authorization. The builder of an ELSA will be required to acquire a Light Sport Repairman's Certificate with Inspection Authorization to do his own inspections, but future owners may do the same, and inspect ELSA which were built by others.

DO YOU SELL PLANS?
No

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO PUT THE KIT TOGETHER?
For the single-place, Vortex, generally takes between 100-120 hours, using basic hand tools (depending on the number of options ordered). The Lightning takes 60-80 hours. All kits come with a step-by-step written manual and assembly video for detailed construction. Whenever you have a question you can always just give us a call for technical support. Sport Copter, will inspect and test-fly your kit for a small fee. Please make an appointment, (503) 543-7000.

HOW MUCH RUNWAY DO I NEED?
This depends on ground conditions, wind and density altitude. Under standard conditions typical gyroplanes use about a 40 to 100 ft. roll. A pre-rotator can this distance dramatically to well under 40 feet by “spooling-up” the rotors to a much higher rpm than would normally be gained by taxiing. The pre-rotator is great reassurance if you’ve land in an area, which only allows a short take-off. Actual takeoff and landing distances must also consider the height and distance of obstructions off the ends of the runway.

CAN I BUY ANY KIT IN STAGES?
Yes. Our single-place machines can be ordered without rotor blades, engine and prop, delaying these major components expenditures until after the airframe is complete. Our new Sportcopter II two-place copter will make the airframe itself available in stages. Check our website frequently for stage and pricing information. We endeavor to work with our customers to be as cost effective as possible to everyone who has ever dreamed of having his own flying machine.

CAN A GYROPLANE TAKE OFF AND LAND VERTICALLY?
No. Sometimes with a strong wind and a prerotator you may achieve a very short (under 40 ft.) take off.

HOW MANY HOURS BEFORE AN ENGINE OVERHAUL IS NECESSARY?
The recommended time between overhaul (TBO) on the Rotax 503 and 582 is 300 hours with proper engine maintenance. For the Rotax 912 ULS, TBO is 1,500 hours.

I AM A HEAVY PILOT. HOW MUCH PILOT WEIGHT CAN SPORT COPTERS HANDLE?
The Lightning can handle a pilots weight up to 220lbs, the Vortex 275lbs. Remember that these limits must be reduced in very hot weather and/or at high altitudes.

WHAT ARE THE OPERATING COSTS TO FLY?
Fuel and oil costs are approximately $16/hour for the Lightning, $19/hour for the Vortex 582, and $15/hour for the Vortex 912 ULS, assuming $3/US gallon gasoline.

CAN I USE A BALLISTIC PARACHUTE?
We do not feel it is safe to attach a ballistic chute to a rotorcraft, because of the chance of an accidental deployment and the affect that would have on your spinning rotor system.

CAN I BUY A BIGGER FUEL TANK?
Yes. We offer roto-molded auxillary tanks which can be added and have a capacity of 3 gallons each, or 5 gallon aluminum tanks.

CAN I MAKE MY OWN REPAIRS?
Yes. It is legal for the builder of the experimental craft to make repairs and improvements to his aircraft.

DO YOU OFFER FINANCING?
Not at this time, but will be offering our new two-place Sportcopter II in stages which will allow customers to buy as they build.

WHERE CAN I GET GYROPLANE INSURANCE?
Contact Evolution Insurance. Phone 877-678-7342. 

 

 

Prices and information subject to change without notice!