By Margaret Sheard …
During the time Ercan Airport was being refurbished, on two occasions the flights I took to the TRNC used Geçitkale Airport, and I assumed I would never have a flight at this airport again, but I was wrong and what a lovely and very different flight I experienced.
We have visited the TRNC Air Sports Federation at Geçitkale Airport on a few occasions and have been writing about the wonderful work they are doing to promote air sports in the TRNC. During these visits we met Zeki Ziya, the President of the Federation and Serkan Özcezlari, pilot and instructor and also two of the students learning to fly a Gyrocopter (or Autogyro). On Thursday 3rd May I accompanied Chris to Geçitkale Airport, supposedly to discuss a new project, and on arrival I found there had been much going on without my knowledge and Chris had conspired with Serkan to give me a flight in the Gyrocopter. It is just as well that Chris knew I wouldn’t refuse this great opportunity.
I was thrilled to bits and ready to take to the skies. The Gyrocopter is quite small and although there is plenty of space for the pilot, the “co-pilot” seat behind him is a little on the small side in area, so it was a bit of a battle getting into place, however once there all was ok. This is a training model and so there is a joystick also in the rear which was positioned between my knees and I was firmly told not to touch it as it would be moving around with the pilot’s manoeuvres, there was also another item I was told not to touch as well, so I thought maybe I should sit on my hands! I was kitted out with a headset and seat belt and so we were ready to go.
We taxied out to the runway and then the rotor blade came into operation. The Gyrocopter does not need a very long runway, it is almost vertical take-off, and we were soon in the air and circling around the area of the airport, where I could look down at the lie of the land and villages. I soon found out about the joystick movement when it suddenly belted me in the stomach! I was also able to talk to Serkan via our headsets.
Chris had driven the car along the approach road and parked so he could take some photos so I was waving madly to him and trying also to take photos from above. Serkan had a camera attached to his headgear and was filming me at the rear while we were flying. This has been made into a video compilation, along with photographs, by Chris and you can see my first experience in a Gyrocopter shown below.
At one point Serkan came down to an apron just off the runway and I thought oh dear that was short and sweet, but no, he touched down and then took off again and we flew around for another period of time.
Eventually we landed, very smoothly, and taxied back to the hangar from where the Federation operates. Then I am afraid the very inelegant process of exiting from the Gyrocopter. I am sure with practice I would be able to master it better than I did this time!
What a marvellous experience it was, I thoroughly enjoyed it, so thank you Serkan, I really do appreciate your time to let me experience this very different mode of air travel, which I am sure is going to become a very popular air sport here in the TRNC both for those wishing to learn to fly a Gyrocopter and also, in the future, for locals and tourists who would just like to enjoy the experience of a flight.
If you would like to contact Serkan you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and for further information please visit his facebook page by clicking here