A Gyroplane Sticks Out at HBC

Jay May with his homebuilt Autogyro Calidus and compact tent.

A casual tour of Sun ‘n Fun’s Homebuilt Camping (HBC) grounds will reveal the usual suspects; scores of RVs, a Murphy Rebel or two, some Long EZs from the seventies and even the odd homebuilt Piper Cub Replica. What you will seldom see, however, is a homebuilt gyroplane. That is until now.

It’s not that homebuilt gyroplanes do not exist. There are plenty to be found, especially in the light sport area at Paradise City. What you don’t find are gyros with enough cargo capacity to support any sort of camping adventure. AutoGyro USA has been importing factory completed Calidus, MTO and Cavalon gyroplanes from Europe for several years. These sleek and capable machines go way beyond the flying lawn furniture of the past. The Calidus and Cavalon models even have enough capacity for the intrepid camper to haul his camping kit across country. Few people know, however, that these aircraft are also available in kit form.

Jay May, a retired geophysicist from Granbury, Texas, became interested in gyroplanes when he saw them fly, and later took a flight in an AutoGyro MTO (open cockpit, two place tandem) in central Texas. Luckily, Jay also found Craig McPherson, a certified gyroplane flight instructor and AutoGyro rep. Jay quickly obtained his gyro endorsement and his wife enjoyed flying with him in the exhilarating MTO. When both of them became more serious about actually obtaining a gyroplane, they decided that a closed cockpit model would be better.

The fighter-like Calidus cockpit.

Being the adventurous type, Jay decided to build his gyroplane instead of simply writing a check and exchanging it for a set of keys. He ordered the kit for an AutoGyro Calidus in May, 2022. In defiance of the supply chain fiasco that has plagued the rest of aviation, Jay received his complete kit in September, 2022. And complete it was. The kit contained every possible component necessary to complete a flying machine, including, engine, instruments, upholstery and seat belts. All of the exterior skins were delivered in their final color, in this case, yellow. And it is bright yellow. Porsche calls it “racing yellow.”

Besides being the only homebuilt gyroplane in the HBC zip code, Jay’s ship stands out like a yellow race car in a sea of sedans.

Jay thoroughly enjoyed the construction of his bright and speedy Calidus. With excellent plans, he finished construction after only 100 hours. After his local FSDO sent out two inspectors, he received his Airworthiness Certificate and he flew his beautiful Calidus the same day. He flew every clear day after that until he had flown off his 40 hour test period. It flew like a dream. Jay relates that the Calidus is smooth and stable, even in turbulence (thanks to high disc loading of the rotor blades). With the great visibility and the futuristic shape of his fuselage, he felt like George Jetson in his daily commuter. It was all he could do to refrain from blowing through his lips to emulate the spritely burble of George’s ride.

With 60 hours under his belt, Jay set off for Lakeland and Sun ‘n Fun. It was his first cross-country of any size in the Calidus. With an average IAS of 80 mph and four hours of range, Jay plotted legs of three hours. He could climb to 7,500 for a comfortable cruise. Thanks to his cozy closed cockpit, he could avoid the fatigue of wind buffet. After four stops, Jay entered the SNF arrival pattern around Lake Parker. He touched down on the green dot and taxied directly to Homebuilt Camping. The activities of the week at SNF have been his reward.

A man and his machine.

After the show, Jay will take his time returning to Granbury, making sure to skirt unpleasant weather. Jay has a good friend who will be building an AutoGyro Cavalon (two place side by side model) and they are planning to return to Sun ‘n Fun next year as a flight of two. So, if there is anything more unusual that a gyroplane at Homebuilt Camping, it will be two!


  1. We had two gyroplanes in HBC this year. My Cavalon was commuting back and forth to Paradise City during the show.

  2. OMG I love these Gyros so much but can’t afford to buy due to my ongoing problem with MS. Anyone willing to take me for a ride in one PLEASE CONTACT ME ASAP!
    Don’t think I have a lot of time left here due to the MS so please try!
    Jeffrey Boyd
    2795 Cambridge Road
    York PA.17402


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