A Personal Historical Narrative by Chris Laskey
Back in the very early 1970s, I became acquainted with a group of folks belonging to an organization known as “PRA Chapter 18,” The Greater Midwest Rotorcraft Club. They were involved in flying and teaching in aircraft called “gyrocopters,” and since I was a many-hour helicopter pilot, I thought I might get involved with them and look into an alternative type of rotorcraft flight. Over the next few years this experience became an association with a lot of good people, some fabulous fly-ins and a little bit of flight time in a gyro glider with Ken Brock, an Air & Space 18A with Don Farrington, and a Marchetti gyro with Frank Marchetti. As a whole, the experience was a lot of fun, but life got in the way and I had to make a living flying choppers and leave my gyro plans on the back burner.
Then in 2013, I met Chris Lord of Pictaio Aerospace (pictaioaerospace.com), and approached him with the idea of adding one of his AutoGyro Calidus gyroplanes to our Midwestern Helicopters business in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Calidus he was flying was a newer second-generation aircraft with very clean lines and a proven track record, and it appeared to fit in with the focus of our current professional operation. The idea was met with enthusiasm by Lord, and Midwestern Helicopters became a local gyroplane training operation (AutoGyro Calidus).
In spite of last winter’s polar vortex, my gyro soon began flying.
The Calidus gets a great deal of eyeball interest since we are based in the terminal building at Kenosha Regional Airport, Kenosha, Wis., and there is a constant parade of inbound professional pilots. Questions abounded and many introductory flight lessons followed. Since then, more than a few Sport Pilot Certificates through CFI Certificates have been issued.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Chris Lord is a dealer for the AutoGyro Calidus, and the USA importer for Celier Aviation Xenon IV Gyroplane (www.Pic-Aero.com), both of which are second generation gyroplanes certified in various European countries. These aircraft are available in the Experimental Amateur Built Category, allowing the builder/owner to perform their own maintenance.
Pilots interested in flying the gyrocopter or taking lessons may contact Chris Laskey at Midwestern Helicopters: 262-657-7700 (www.Midwesternhelicopter.com).