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PRA Club 20  (Pelican State Rotorcraft)

3 State PRA Chapter Meet

  On Saturday the 16st of October 2010, Popular Rotorcraft Association Chapters 6, 20 & 62 met in Bastrop, Louisiana, USA at the Morehouse Memorial Airport for a gyro gathering. For years the Louisiana and Arkansas chapters try to get together once a year at a central location which is convenient for all. This year we were glad to hear that several folks from PRA Chapter 62 would come to the event. So this year we had representation from:

bullet  PRA Chapter 6/Arkansas, The mid-South Rotorcraft Club
bullet  PRA Chapter 20/Louisiana, The Pelican State Rotor Club
bullet  PRA Chapter 62/Texas, The Lone Star Rotorcraft Club

    The Popular Rotorcraft Association is based in Mentone, Indiana, USA at the PRA Mentone Airport. PRA was started in 1962 by Igor Bensen, the inventor of the Bensen Gyrocopter. Since then it has grown to include rotorcraft of all sorts with members in over 80 countries. We are a group of people who love homebuilt rotorcraft -- gyroplanes and helicopters that they build and fly themselves. These rotorcraft enthusiasts get together to exchange ideas, information, help one another, promote safety and help with flight training.

    We all agree this airport is the best place, not only for its location but friendly atmosphere. This includes the town as well as the airport personal since we stay in the local motels and eat at the local restaurants. Special thanks to the airport manager, Brent Elton, for all his help with the event. Brent made room for our machines in his hanger as well as seeing that all our needs were met. He and another mechanic at the airport, sorry I did not get his name, were most helpful with a few repairs to some of the memberís machines.

   The weather forecast for the weekend called for sunny weather and no rain. This time the report was right on the money, the temperature in the day rose into the 80s while they dipped into the 50s at night. The winds were calm with the occasional breeze from the north-east which gave us a slight cross wind most of the weekend but nothing we could not handle. In the afternoon the warm temperatures gave us some bumpy flying.

     Most gyroplanes have short range due to their size but the size also allows us to trailer the machine easily. By having rotor blades instead of wings we can pack the machine onto a trailer like the powered parachute pilots. Some pilots take the blades apart, some have designed racks to allow the blades to be carried assembled and a few trailer the gyroplane with its blades on the machine using supports to hold the blades.

    Many of us arrived during the day on Friday to set up camp. On the field we had one motor home and 2 tents, while another person slept in the hanger near his gyroplane. The others reserved motel rooms in town. The rest of the people arrived on Saturday, after supper on Saturday most had left for the long ride home while about half of us stayed the night and left around noon on Sunday. Sunday morning we had to take one last flight to burn the last of the gas we had before packing up.

    We had several guests attend to see what gyroplanes are all about and this event they had plenty to see. We had a large variety of machines to look at with different engine choices. There were Benson, Ken Brock, Dominator, Butterfly, Air Command, Sparrowhawk and RAF. As for engines we had Rotax, Continental, Volkswagen, Subaru, McCulloch and Compact Radial.  Also many different pre-rotator options were present, we had electric, mechanical, hydraulic and one gas engine driven. Steve Weir has a Go-Ped gasoline engine to run his pre-rotator; he showed us how he can easily achieve 200 rpm before takeoff. We had 14 flying gyroplanes, 3 gyroplanes on display and 1 gyro glider for a total of 18.     (See Photos on Pelican State page.)

    This year Chapter 20 brought out of storage the Benson Gyroglider. This glider was built several years ago by Rod Reed and James Chowns to train chapter members. All day Saturday the glider was flown by James while he gave simple instruction to the principle of rotor management. The airport has a 4000 foot runway with a full length taxiway; this is perfect for towing the glider. Since the airport does not have much general aviation traffic the glider had full use of the field. Everyone flying took caution looking for the tow vehicle when landing and taking off while the tow vehicle had an aircraft radio to listen for traffic. Rudy was able to give rides to one girlfriend and one wife so they could see why the guys were always talking about flying gyroplanes.

    We had two of our gyroplane pilots fly over in there airplanes, Mike Gaspard in his newly acquired Cessna 140 & Jeff Breville in his Glasair. Jeff showed us the speed of his aircraft as he did a low flyby while leaving. Cliff Massey stopped by on his way back from a trip he took to Illinois. He had 3 gyroplanes on his trailer that he picked up in Illinois. He purchased a Dominator with a Subaru engine and a custom built Bensen type frame. The other gyro, a Bensen with a Mac engine was bought by Keith Johnston; Cliff picked it up for him. Keith got a lesson on how to work on the magneto of the Mac from Gary Hall and Rod Reed our resident McCulloch experts.

    Usually we have lunch at the hanger and go to a local restaurant for a sort of banquet supper. This year we tried something different, for lunch Bill picked up some pizzas but for supper we decided to cook at the hanger. We grilled rib eye steaks, twice baked potatoes, mixed vegetables, coleslaw, garlic bread and cake brownies for desert. Walt Backer and Mark Carmouche grilled the steaks, Lisa Graffeo made the potatoes, and Janice made the coleslaw and brownies. We had 31 people eat while we listened to the LSU game on the radio. We charged $10 per plate; all we did was cover the expense of the food and drinks.


PRA Chapter 6, The Mid-South Rotorcraft Club members:

Richard Kennedy Conway KB2/Rotax 582
Walt Backer Atkins Bensen/VW
Gary Hall North Little Rock Bensen/Mac
Jim Edwards Russelville

PRA Chapter 20, The Pelican State Rotor Club members:

Scott Sharkey Amite Air Command/Rotax 503
Rod Reed Lafayette KB2/Mac
Bill Weiger Pineville Bensen/Continental 0-200
Mark Carmouche Woolworth KB4/Rotax 582
Kirk Grover Prairieville Dominator/Rotax 582
Mark McDonner Zachary Air Command/Rotax 503
Scott Borderlon Echo Monarch/Rotax 582
James Chowns Rayville Bensen/Continental 0-200
Rudy Graffeo Gonzales RAF2000
Mike Morgan Abbeville
Mike Gaspard Kaplan
Jeff Breville Lafeyette
Hugh Cavalier Napoleonville
David Branton Pineville

PRA Chapter 62, The Lone Star Rotorcraft Club members:

Steve Weir Baytown Dragonfly/MZ202
Anthony Vallot Houston Sparrowhawk
Keith Johnston Beaumont
Mike Grosshans Houston
Chauncey Surry Houston
Cliff Massey Magnolia
Stacy Maness Rosebud


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 Last modified: 12/05/2012.