There is no doubt that flying can be an expensive hobby. If you are looking to get into aviation on a very tight budget than I’m afraid you might struggle a bit.
But if you are looking for the cheapest method of getting up in the air – and maybe even owning your own aircraft – then you may want to consider looking at the latest generation of gyroplanes.
These rotor craft are now at a point where they are one of the safest recreational aviation craft on the market and they have the added advantage of being cheaper to buy and cheaper to run than pretty much all the other options.
A gyroplane like the Autogyro MTO Sport will burn just 15L an hour of unleaded petrol giving them a range of around 4-500km.
Just like with any other aircraft they require scheduled maintenance every 100 hours but this will only set you back about $400.
All up this means your direct operational costs for this exciting new aircraft are around $25/hr. Add in things like insurance, hangarage and other incidentals and your costs are still well below that of a light aircraft or a small helicopter.
And to top it all off these aircraft are extremely user friendly with the average novice pilot being able to earn their solo certification in around 30 hours of in-flight instruction. After this you will need to log a further 80 hours by yourself in command before you can take a passenger up flying with you.
The MTO Sport offers around 90% of the functionality of small helicopter with its major limitation in comparison to a chopper being an inability to take off vertically. But there are things you can do in a modern gyro that simply aren’t possibly in a helicopter so this balances out.
A brand new MTO Sport costs around $87,000AUD. So not only are the operating and maintenance costs well below those of a small helicopter like an R22 – they are far cheaper to buy as well.
Flying an open cockpit gyro is an experience like no other. You have all the maneuverability (and more) of a sporty light aircraft, combined with the advantages that come with a rotary wing, notably an inability to stall.
And the principle of autorotation combined with the finest in German engineering gives you an extremely safe and reliable aircraft suitable for pilots of all skill levels.