It's not a helicopter, but it looks like one

In the Bond film “You Only Live Twice” 007 has a helicopter-like craft named “Little Nelly”. Anybody know what the real name of this vehicle is and how it works?

It’s called an “Autogyro”. It’s like a helocopter, only the economy model.

It’s a Benson Gyrocopter. The rotor on the top is free spinning, and not connected to an engine. The engine uses a conventional propellor in a pusher arrangement behind the pilot. The engine provides forward thrust, and the rotor above starts to spin and creates lift like a wing.

You can’t hover in them like a helicopter, but you can come close. They’re a fairly neat little beast, and fairly inexpensive.

Thanks, d. The part about the main rotor not being connected to a motor was the part I could quite pu my finger on as to why it wasn’t a helicopter.

I think they’re more than fiarly dangerous though.


I used to work in a hobby shop and fly radio controled airplanes, if they fly in full scale real life there is a working radio controlled model of it. I have seen a few gyrocopters in R/C scale and they fly much like a regular plane, though they are able to land in a MUCH shorter distance and are not more unstable (unlike a “real” helicopter!!). I seem to recall something about someone landing a (“real”) gyrocopter on the Whitehouse lawn and taking off again…

But DH, they asked how they work.

So in an autogyro, would the primary force of lift be better attributed to Newtons Law or Bournelli’s principal?

Inside joke. Dear god, it’s only an inside joke.

I wonder; do autogyros have better range (more mpg) than helicopters?

If I was a little more awake this AM , I might be able to explain why I’m wondering.

Any book titles on autogyros? Or info on propose WW2 applications of 'gyros?

Is an appreciation of beauty a function of the human soul?

During WW2, German U-boats could deploy a small autogyro with an observer. (I know it sounds like comic book material, but I’ve seen one of the darn things in a WW2 museum). I’ll look for a link.

This particular type of autogyro was “towed” after the U-boat (which was, of course, surfaced at the time) and had no engine of its own.

WAG: Probably fell from use after airborne radar made it perilous for U-boats to surface in daylight.

See “Mad Max 2/Road Warrior” for another on-screen demo of this machine.

The Bensen Gyrocopter has had its share of fatalities. Probably most because of the lax training requirements for flying a gyrocopter. But they also have a dangerous pitch-over in some flight conditions that is unpredictable and if it happens near the ground can cause you some grief.

Some version of the gyro have a rotor spin-up mode that connects the engine to the rotor for a short time to spin it up to takeoff speed. Then the engine disengages from the rotor. This cuts takeoff distances to only a few feet, rather than maybe 50-100 feet it would normally require.

A regular helicopter can also turn itself into an autogyro. The main rotor blades can be decoupled from the engines and gears to “autorotate” that is spin freely in an emergency. This is the equivalent of gliding for a helicopter.

IIRC, most gyros have stub wings attached to the sides of the fuselage, don’t they?

They’re also pretty good for aerobatics. One of my friends wants to build one and he’s the sort to which any type of airplane needs a little more engine and a few feet less wingspan. Hearing him talk, it sounded like a gyro would be perfect for him.

My guess, but I’m not sure that the gyro would be less safe than a plane. Sure, it would have a faster glide slope, but wouldn’t the use of a rotor instead of wings make it less prone to falling into a spin?

When he was living with his parents, said friend’s father had a gyro and a small airplane. He made two emergency landings in the plane and one in the gyro and emerged from all unscathed (I think he did destroy the gyro’s landing gear, though.)

Here’s a little info on the German submarine-deployed autogyro, the Focke-Achgelis Fa330 autogyro kite.

Weapons development was rapid during the war and I’m not sure these were operational; I do know there are 3 examples at various museums - that seems like a high number for something not deployed - yet I’ve never encountered one in readings of operations.

Nope. I suppose there are some out there with stub wings, but the vast majority of designs look pretty much like helicopters, even dating back to the Pitcairn autogyro from the 1930’s.

There are terrible for aerobatics. They are slow, stable, and I don’t know of a single one that can be rolled or looped.

Probably not. Autogyros are not high performance airplanes, other than their ability to take off and land in small places.

Not having a wing, you can’t stall an autogyro. So you can’t put one in a spin, either. Are they safer than airplanes? that depends. They have more moving parts than airplanes, so more stuff can break. All of them currently available are kits, so the quality is only as good as the builder. I would be very leery of building a kit helicopter or autogyro unless it was a very proven design. There is a kit helicopter called the Mini-500 that turned out to be an engineering disaster, and is killing people right and left.

One of the problems with kit helicopters is that it’s very tough for an untrained person to really tell if the design is airworthy, because the structures and stresses are very complex and interact in strange ways.

Some kit helicopters suffer from problems like low rotor mass, which makes it very hard to auto-rotate to a safe landing if the engine fails.

Tell your friend to do a ton of research before he buys anything. I would suggest going to rec.aviation.homebuilt and asking questions about the design. You’ll get plenty of opinions.

Thanks for calling me on the aerobatics. Since he’s already flown them, I’m sure he knows how they handle. I’ll bring it up with him, though I’ll probably benefit more than he will.

Same goes for vibration. I’m not into aviation, but I assume that nothing can ruin your day like a cracked frame.