Autogyro pilots set for world record attempt at Shuttleworth Collection’s Old Warden base near Biggleswade
PUBLISHED: 10:00 08 June 2017
Danny Loo Photography 2017
There is quite a spectacle at the Shuttleworth Collection’s Old Warden home tomorrow – between 30 and 50 autogyros are taking to the skies in the first world record attempt of its kind.
The British Rotorcraft Association is planning to host a record attempt of the most autogyros ever to fly in to one UK airfield in a single day.
Co-ordinator Steve Paffett told the Comet: “It will be quite something – we have people flying in from as far afield as Scotland to take part.
“The former patron of the association was wing commander Ken Wallis who designed, built and flew the Little Nellie gyro in You Only Live Twice.
“He inspired so many to want to fly these fascinating aircraft, and of course his aircraft is on loan to the Shuttleworth Collection for the foreseeable future.”
A big part of Steve’s role is taking people up in the aircraft as well as being events co-ordinator, treasurer and membership secretary for the British Rotorcraft Association.
It’s all the more impressive as Steve hadn’t set foot in a gyros until 2010 – and is scared of heights.
Steve said: “I got into this flying model aircraft, and wanted to go in a helicopter but I was too scared of flying and heights to ever give it a go.
“Then a pilot told me about the autogyros – which was somewhere between the two and one of the safest aircraft you can go on. My wife bought me a half hour experience in one and I was hooked.
“Now I must’ve done 1,400 flights, including going to France, and I’ve taken more than 100 people up in the air. I ask for donations to the Garden House Hospice or the Alzheimer’s Society.
A view from above: Comet photographer Danny Loo’s experience
The weather was not ideal for my flight with Steve with winds gusting up to force 4 (so I’m told), but Steve made me feel very safe by explaining how the autogyro works with the aid of a toy autogyro kite.
He assured me that a bit of wind was a good thing and would help us get airborne.
We accelerated along the runway heading directly into the wind and, sure enough, the craft lifted off the ground. We banked hard to starboard over the tunnels of Graveley Fruit Farm.
The wind was behind us for the short flight to Ashwell and the strong tailwind made it feel like we were bobbing along in a boat. We did a few circuits and got some great shots of David piloting a similar machine before heading back to Graveley along the A505.
Steve’s perfect landing signalled the end of my autogyro experience and, although the helmet and visor made photography difficult, I was very happy with the pictures.
“It will be a great event on Friday for anyone to come along to – how often do you see one autogyro in the air? I remember the first time I saw one and was amazed, so to see at least 30 in the air will be awesome.”
The world record attempt will start from 9am onwards, and organisers expect everyone to be up by about lunchtime.
Following on from the record attempt will be the de Havilland Moth Club Charity Flying Weekend at Shuttleworth this Saturday and Sunday, before an evening air show is held on Saturday, June 17.