Meet Sayaka Yoshino and the Autogyro Revolution

The Autogyro Revolution: A blog about an autogyro pilot and her experiences flying one.

My name is Sayaka Yoshino and I am a Japanese Autogyro pilot. I have been flying Autogyros for over 6 years and it is my passion. There are not very many people that fly Autogyros in Japan, so it can be a lonely experience at times. I am hoping to meet more people who share my passion for flight, so I created this blog as a way to connect with other pilots or people interested in learning about flight.

Meet Sayaka Yoshino, the first Japanese autogyro pilot and a new contributor to this blog.

Sayaka is a 22-year old student at Tokyo’s International Christian University, where she studies biology. She took up autogyro flying this spring. Although she hasn’t much time for it now due to her busy school schedule (and the rainy weather), autogyro piloting remains her passion, and she hopes to fly more in the future.

I’ve been working on translating Sayaka’s blog since May, but since she has yet to post a single new entry since I started, I had to fill in the gaps by composing my own entries using information from her blog and other sources. I hope you’ll enjoy reading what I’ve written here, but please do keep in mind that much of it was made up!

Her blog posts are listed in reverse chronological order (i.e., newest on top).

I’m Sayaka Yoshino and I’m an Autogyro pilot. This blog is about my experiences flying my autogyro.

I started flying in July 2009, and have been hooked ever since. I got my private pilot license in March 2010, and then took a break for a few years after that to focus on school- I was getting my PhD in neuroscience at the time. In 2014, with my PhD almost finished, I decided to jump back into aviation with a bang and get my Instrument rating.

Autogyros are amazing aircraft. They are similar to helicopters in that they use rotors for lift, but they are much simpler to fly than helicopters because the rotor is not powered by the engine (like helicopters). Instead, autogyros use an unpowered rotor that spins by autorotation, similar to how gliders fly (i.e., no engine power). The engine is instead used only to drive a propeller which pulls the aircraft forward; this provides enough airspeed for the rotor blades to spin by autorotation even though they aren’t powered directly by the engine. Thus it is much easier to fly an autogyro than a helicopter!

Autogyros are also safer than helicopters because if the engine fails you can just glide

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


It is a pleasure to fly with Sayaka Yoshino. She is as good a pilot as she is a person. When we were ready to depart, I sat in the rear seat while Sayaka demonstrated the preflight checks. At the time I had no idea how much fun it would be to fly from JFK to LAX. It would have been even more fun if we could have flown at night. I did not get any sleep on our trip westward and for the first time in my life I was really looking forward to getting back on an airplane and going east.

Sayaka’s English is excellent, so there was no problem understanding her instructions and questions when she asked them. The short taxi out to runway 31L (we were number two behind a Delta 767) gave me the opportunity to look at all of the airplanes parked at JFK and witness up close the hustle and bustle of one of the busiest airports in the world.

I had never flown from JFK before and I was surprised at how long it took us to reach altitude after takeoff. Sayaka told me that we were on an airways route for about ten miles before we turned towards Buffalo and Niagara Falls, passing over

I did not see any other aircraft on the course, and I completed the entire flight without seeing any other aircraft.

I landed at Palmdale at approximately 3:15 pm local time, a few minutes before KLAX’s official closing time of 3:30 pm. I was given a cell phone number by one of the people in the tower in case they needed to contact me after hours, but it never rang. It was nice that they waited for me to land before closing.

The next day, I returned the autogyro to Compton Airport, where it is based. It is about a 20 minute drive from Palmdale to Compton, which is located just south of Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX). I parked my car at Compton and was driven back to Palmdale by one of my friends who assisted with the move. We also picked up some food along the way so we could eat immediately upon arriving back at our home/hangar in Palmdale.

I’ve flown from JFK to LAX in a helicopter. I had a fantastic time. But it was no Autogyro.

An autogyro is not a helicopter (or for that matter, a gyrocopter). An autogyro is a rotorcraft with an unpowered rotor turned by the action of air moving up through the rotor from below. The rotor shaft is mounted at a slight angle, which causes the rotor to spin.

A helicopter has an engine-powered main rotor and a tail rotor, which counteracts the torque of the main rotor (which would otherwise make the helicopter rotate). Because it has powered rotors, it can take off vertically and hover; an autogyro cannot.

The key difference between an autogyro and a gyrocopter is that an autogyro’s rotor is not powered by its engine; rather, it spins due to “autorotation,” which results from movement of air through the rotor blades.

I was going to go into some detail about how this works, but I figured it would be easier just to show you:

The Autogyro is a hybrid aircraft, using both fixed wings and a rotating propeller to provide lift.

The first patent for the autogyro was submitted by Juan de la Cierva in 1923, but the first production models were built by Harold Pitcairn, who patented his own design in 1930. The first autogyro to fly in the United States was built by the Pitcairn family. The earliest models featured open cockpits, and limited forward visibility due to the large rotor blades above. Later models enclosed the cockpit, providing better visibility and protection from the elements.

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