Friday, April 29, 2011

Do You Want Yours Open Or Closed? How About Both!

Busy week at AWI for sure!  Part of the week included Tony coming come up with yet another HOME RUN!  Check it out....this design gives  you either a partially or fully enclosed HoneyBee G2™.  That right, from this  "platform"  all you have to do is pull a couple of "hinge pins" and wallah! You now have a "beautiful partially enclosed  HoneyBee G2™! All of this with the same great looking nose cone, wind screen and same super clean frontal lines.   

Best of all, if you want a partially enclosed HoneyBee G2 to begin with and later want to convert it to a fully enclosed frame just order the doors! 

There is a ton of thought going into this effort; we want to get it right---the first time! Got ideas on how we could make it better?  How about cup holders?  Landing lights? Vents? Heating ducts? Gun racks? Well not gun racks......Write me: Jim@HoneyBee 

It is 9:30PM on Friday night and it is time to call it a week! I am going to TRY to stop thinking about the HoneyBee G2at least until morning!

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brace Yourself For This One!

Good morning! 

Many, many of you have written or called me about how you love the direction that the enclosure is taking.  Some of you have raised questions about the "vertical area" behind the CG of the aircraft for Yaw Dampening issues. In those conversations, I shared that there was more coming.....well here it is.  I hope you like it as much as I do.....I love it!  

In the next couple of days, I will be putting a survey up on the Blog to get some additional feed back on features in the shell. Thanks for all your input and encouragement. 

One Sweet Little Gyro™!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chapter #2: Starting My Private Ticket

It was the Fall of 1982 when Rick Jones introduced himself to me. We instantly became friends.  He worked inside of a family business and I was involved in a Post College Internship.  He was working on his Private Pilot Certificate and was kind enough to introduce me to a gaggle of flying guys. These guys  were  fanatical about flying and lived around Huntington, WV and Chesapeake, OH. These were my kind of guys! They liked airplanes, liked flying airplanes to Pancake Breakfasts and liked to talk about airplanes all the time. Rick was a good ol' boy from Milton, West Virginia and he made me feel like a part of the group even though I was a Yankee from up North in Michigan.  It was a good bunch of  guys that made me feel welcome in their circles.  If somebody was flying somewhere, I got invited to go and because the word was out that I was a broke college kid, everyone knew that I was only payload and not a paying customer. They knew that I just needed help to get off the ground until I could do something "officially" for flight training; I really needed that at the time. 

In hanging out with these guys, Rick found out that I already had a log book that I had used from keeping track of my "hours" for RC Aircraft. He asked me if he could borrow it for awhile and I said sure. I had no idea what he was going to do with it but I was certainly okay with him having it for awhile.  When I got it back, Rick had made me, from scratch, a log book cover from beautifully crafted ox hide,  I could not believe it. I still have it to this day.  It was such a thoughtful gift to a guy that simply wanted and needed to hang out with guys that loved to fly. There was one thing about me however that Rick could not understand. You see because I trusted Rick, I talked to him about the Bensen gyrocopter; I needed his counsel about them because I did not know much about them.  Like most people, Rick too had heard of "a couple of guys" that had flown them and got hurt.  I can still remember him saying to me, "Jimmy, I don't think that you ought to be thinking about flying something as dangerous as the little gyrocopter things".  When you take his counsel to heart he was right, the Bensen's were involved in a great deal of accidents. I had no idea why such a simple little aircraft could be so dangerous. I simple knew that I liked them and someday wanted to own one.  Rick had another idea. 

One of the "guys" in the gang at the airport, was Rick's friend Donny Chapman. Donny went by the name of Okie Skidmore. I don't know how he came to be called that other than he was a Master at doing forward slips in aircraft.  He was a great guy and generous to a fault.  He was sort of my ideal....he owned an airport, a Seneca and a Cessna 120 like the one pictured above and a customized Cessna 140 with an o-200.  One day I was at the airport and Donny asked me if I had time to go up and log some time in the Cessna 120.  Believe it or not, I had my log book with me and off we went.  We started with all the heading and altitudes basics. Then we transitioned to turns, two minute turns and turns to a heading. It was wonderful even though I chased the aircraft and all those needles around the sky.  After a couple of hours passed it was time to head back to Donny's home field in Ona, West Virgina.  Ona is famous for one thing, it is Chuck Yeager's home town.  Big deal! Chuck's home tome is in some of the hilliest parts of the world....and at the bottom of the hill is where Donny's airstrip was.  Now he, not me, had to land the Cessna 120 at the end of my lesson.  For those of you that have never seen or flown a 120, it is has no flaps.  Thats right, I said no flaps...only ailerons.  It was about this time that Donny asked me if I had ever done a slip.  I don't remember what I said but I had no idea how we were going to get that little airplane with "no flaps" into that pea patch down there by the river in them there hills!  He said, "well then why don't I take it from here".  I was glad to give him back the controls. I sat in awe as Donny setup a left downwind leg, call out his base leg and begin his final with a perfect forward slip into that little pea patch of a runway down by the river side.  We sank like a manhole cover but with controlled airspeed to the numbers, centered to the runway and did a perfect wheel landing. I was amazed and knew that when I grew up I wanted to be able to fly like Donny did.  He made it look easy and put the seed into my heart to fly well, make look easy and most of all to share the gift and privilege of flight with others.  He did all of this because I was Rick's friend; a broke, post college kid in some internship thing.  To this day, I have the log book that Donny signed....Donny did this just because I was Rick's friend.  

In closing, as great as this memory is I wish that Donny would have taken me to take a ride in a two-place gyroplane rather than an airplane. I don't mean to sound ungrateful in any way for all that Donny did, but a gyroplane is tens times more fun than an airplane.  Because of that, it is my desire to share my love of flight and more importantly to share my love of the gyroplane with as many people as I can all over the world.  

Bring your log book and let's go flying!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chapter #1: Discovering the "Gyroplane"

Popular Mechanics has always been one of my favorite magazines. My late father introduced me to this wonderful resource at an early age. Later on in Middle and High School, I would read them during  my time in the library and build some of the projects in shop class. The magazine had a number of areas that were of keen interest to me and one in particular was my passion, the aviation section!  There was seemingly a new design every month; designs like Jeanie's Teenie and the Volksplane and many others.  The classified section of the magazine always had plans and information on how to build your own personal aircraft. One could always count on seeing an ad from The Bensen Aircraft Corporation for a  beautiful little "whirly bird" as he referred to it as.  Month after month I would read the ads and never get over that little "gyrocopter".  

The Bensen ads continued to appear month after month in many trade journals that I would read and at the age of 24, I finally broke down and ordered my information package from Bensen.  It was post marked October 6th 1982; I still have it.  I have probably read it a thousand times. It was also at around this time that my first daughter Jessica Lynn started becoming a household name.   The "gyrocopter" would just have to wait. I was finishing up an internship program in Huntington, West Virginia and life was happening all around me.  

Have you ever heard that when one door closes, another one opens; it is true. Enter Rick Jones and Donny Chapman, aka Okie Skidmore. These two guys took me under their wings and made me part of their flying world.  I was a broke post college grad in an internship program. They were both successful business men and loved airplanes as much as I did.  These are guys that gave me my first entries in my log book.  Rick was working on his Private Ticket and would go on to fly as a corporate pilot out of Huntington, WV.  Donny had several airplanes, an airport and was a CFI.  What a match made in heaven. It would be these two guys that would "baptize" me into the best part of General Aviation, being around the great people that make it up.  

So where did my love of the gyrocopter go? It just had to set and simmer for just a little while longer. The information package would be pulled out time and time again.  My love of the gyroplane would never, never go away.  My point in writing you today is really to encourage you today.  Today is over, tomorrow will be hear before you know it. Like its predecessor yesterday, it to will be gone before you know it.  If it is your desire to one day own a "gyrocopter", then do one thing this week that gets you heading in that direction.   Schedule a ride, take a picture, call a gyroplane pilot and what ever you do, don't ever get over your love of one day flying the best aircraft type in the world, the gyroplane!

Never give up!

Return to the GyroJournal

2011 Bensen Days!

Recognize this man? You are absolutely correct...Mr. Igor Bensen, the man behind the famed Bensen Gyrocopter and the name sake of the Annual Bensen Days Fly In Event.

With that said, the 2011 Bensen Days officially ends today. For AWI,  the event has proven to be a great success! By that I mean that it was a wonderful way to meet our Web/Blog fans, learn about new power plants that were burning up the skies overhead, (thank you to Brook and Ron) and understand first hand what customers are looking for in their HoneyBee G2's!  

There were four common themes: 
  1. Stability: First and foremost, there is a univaersal desire for stable gyroplanes. Our staff found that customers enjoyed learning about how AWI has designed the HoneyBee G2's to meet the current Pitch Stability requirements in the proposed Gyroplane Stability Standards.  The G2's  literally fly hands off in turbulent and convective conditions. Our full-line meets the stability requirements at all speeds including MPRS (Minimum Power Required Speed) and Vbg (Best Power Off Glide Speed). 
  2. Part 103 Legal Ultralight: For those that were interested in real, full featured ultralights we had lots to discuss. For those familiar with Dr. Taggart's Gyrobee & the  HoneyBee Gyro of the 1990's, the HoneyBee G2 Ultralight Frame is significantly lighter by design  and is "featured up to the 254# limit of FAA Part 103 Guidelines.  People are tired of being "winked at" on the entire ultralight issue. 
  3. 4 Stroke Engines: There was a universal interest in having options for more 4 Stroke power plants across the complete line.  AWI has been working on this for the last six months. We are glad that we are on the same page on this one....more at the PRA Convention. 
  4. Enclosures: Customers expressed a real interest in full and partial enclosure with "storage" that can adapt to both warm and cold climates.  I was able to spend time in the Pilot's Lounge at Wauchula with Bill about this one; I learned a lot from him. His input helped me better understand his and his wife's need for wind protection and storage but in the realm of the Southern climates. Sometimes my "Great White North" mindset hinders my ability to understand what's it like to fly in "warm" weather year round. I have listened hard and learned even more. Thank you Bill for helping me understand!
In closing, I want to personally thank Sun State Wing & Rotor Club for sponsoring the event.  Great Job!!! Thank you to "Air Boss" Roy Davis for clearly leading and keeping it safe and fun at the same time! Thank you to the PRA Staff that could be seen all over the place with their Orange Shirts; keeping things safe and moving in the right direction. Thank you to Scott Lewis for setting the stage for good, safe gyroplane flying. When the President is also a good gyronaut, it sets the stage for everyone. Thank you to Gary Goldsberry, the former President of the PRA who works behind the scenes and is a friend to everyone there. I have seen Gary play such an important role as a highly "supportive" behind the scenes, "former President".  Great job Gary! Lets go flying together! Lastly, I am thankful for the friends that I made, got to fly with, film with and most of all the customers who appreciate what we are trying to do with simple line of gyroplanes.  Looking forward to seeing all of you again at the PRA convention!

I will see you at Mentone!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The GyroJournal™

Good morning to all of you around the the United States, Germany, Australia, Canada, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Guam, Austria, Norway, New Zealand,  China and Japan!

I have so enjoyed meeting so many of you from the US who follow the Blog, but more surprisingly, I have met many that are international followers as well.  I want nothing more than to meet all of you and ultimately fly gyroplanes together somewhere between here and where you live.   

Moving on to the topic of the I manage the content of the HoneyBee G2™ Blog, the GyroJournal™ is in the long-term plan of topics to write about.  Back in 1997-2000 when it first began it was by far the most popular page that GyroTech had on its website.  This time I will try to reflect on the lessons and struggles learned in a meaningful way. These lessons will include those learned in my early hours of time in type and how it shaped me into the gyro pilot and designer that I am today.   

Before I get started, I want to acknowledge those that have helped me.  The first person that helped me understand mechanical things was my late Father, Jon Fields. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss him. He taught me how to design, weld, drill, bend, fabricate, cast, torque, wire, read blue prints and love Popular Mechanics magazine. He was a master at building anything. It was my father that introduced me to drinking Mountain Dew™ and eating Snickers™ while sketching on a napkin. We were best friends; he passed away over five years ago. I wish he were still here.  Thank you Dad!

The next person is my high school Industrial Arts Teacher, Mr. Ted Curtiss, the father of the famous Chad Curtiss of the New York Yankees.  Mr. Curtiss was strong enough to give direction and wise enough to cut me loose on Independent Studies for new product design. He is a gracious and wonderful man.  Thank you Ted!

The last one that I want to acknowledge is Dr. Ralph Taggart, the designer and promoter of the original Gyrobee.  When he made the plans available at the PRA website, he changed my flying passions forever.  Thank you Ralph!

If you think of topics that would help you, chances are good that I have answered it sometime over the last 14 years. Send me an email if you think of something; I want your input. 

Please see  The GyroJournal listed with the Web Pages of this blog.  



Monday, April 4, 2011

Sun-N-Fun Is Done!

The 2011 Sun-N-Fun show is now history!  Our staff has  learned how much work it has been for those that came to the show to get to and "find" Chopper Town.  Even as an exhibitor, we had a tough time finding it the first time.  A number of the manufacturers will be talking to the SNF Management about the location and the less than accommodating conditions; there needs to be some fundamental changes before next year's show.  If you have some specific suggestions, please email me... 

Now that it is Monday morning here in Florida, the show staff was able to sleep in beyond 5:30AM this morning. In fact we slept in until 8:30, we desperately needed the sleep!  The rest of the day includes fixing the truck due to some Tornado damage, picking up the HoneyBee Gyro that was stolen from my late friend Jim Norcia in 2000, Ms. Louanne is doing laundry, I am blogging, the engineering staff is laying around brain storming on our new show/training trailer. Lastly, I have to fly the Pink Single Place (call sign "Pink Panther") to Wauchula for Bensen Days. There are a 100 things that have to happen everyday when you are in "show season".   I know that shows are necessary but I look forward to beginning the BeeTours.

That about says it all!
Don't think for a minute that all of us don't absolutely love what we are doing; we do. The flip side of all the work is  making friends that love and appreciate the gyroplanes too.  Those friends come from  the internet via the BeeAlert List, those that comment on the Blog, those that call me and those that just show up at shows and offer a word of appreciation for what we are doing with the HoneyBee G2 line.  Building the company, developing a gyroplane line and flying are just a part of thrill; the making of friends is the best part.

Well, the day is already busy; there are only 85 more things to do....including flying to Wauchula!

I love my job!