Bay Tour Via Gyroplane

Text and Photos by Dug Smith

At the beginning of November, my gyroplane was down for its annual inspection. Chris Silva, a gyroplane pilot from Placerville, was at Lincoln on Saturday, November 3rd, and was talking about flying to Half Moon Bay the next day, so I tagged along in the back seat to take pictures.

On the way out, we contacted NorCal and got flight following, then flew over Sacramento. I tend to stay away from towns, so this was a nice change of pace. I’d found that I couldn’t really see the screen on the camera, thanks to the glare, so most of the time I was just pointing it in the direction of something interesting and pushing the button. Several times. (You can always delete the pictures you don’t like.) I also noticed that the camera needed a few seconds to get the exposure right when starting up.

On the way out, we flew south of Travis AFB and the reserve fleet area down by Vallejo. When we got to the Bay itself, it was a bit misty, but I snapped away regardless. We went over the Marin headlands, then turned south to follow the coast down, going past the Golden Gate bridge.

We flew just out over the coast, and it got a lot colder. Luckily we were both dressed for that. We passed the hang gliders and the paragliders around Fort Funston, and joined the pattern and landed at Half Moon Bay without any stress.

After lunch, we talked to some of the locals about the gyroplane—I’ve taken to calling them “hello-copters” because it’s hard to go anywhere without people wanting to talk to you. We got kitted up again, put in 10 gallons of fuel and headed back.

It was a bit warmer, and the haze had burnt off, so there were more free fliers out than there were on the way down. We’d taken our time on the way down, cruising at 65-70 mph, but Chris needed to get back so his partner could take the plane out too. Our airspeed was around 100 mph most of the way back. We went to the north of Travis this time, and straight over Sacramento International, which was a first for me. Our total flight time was around 3.5 hours, and we spent most of our time between 2,000 and 3,000’