story detail

Non stop flying 23 june 2012

by Claudio Italiano
Flight Instructor


The idea of ​​making a record flight was something that had been spinning in my head for some time, which was inspired by the feat that Charles Lindbergh experimented in 1927 with the crossing of the Atlantic on board his plane.

 I started to do my research, and I found a record made with the autogyro of 1400 km without stopping, I had not found others, so I deduced that it would be my record to beat my starting point, and I would have put it  all the effort to do it.

 The first thing I did is to trace a path to break the record, how many flight hours are needed?  I started to do calculations on fuel consumption and thinking for excess, I considered an average consumption of 21.5 lt now the idea was to be able to travel 1500 km and bring the record to 100 km more.

 I considered that flying at an average speed of 120 km / h to travel 1500 km I would have taken 12.5 hours multiplying by 21.5 lt per hour I would have to embark about 268 lt.

 No sooner said than done, the next evening I call an engineer friend of mine, and we get on the computer to find out the measurements of such a tank, the printing was huge I couldn't believe it, I had no idea how to start building such a tank.

 The next day I started to shape iron wire strips in such a way as to create a solid base, the idea that came out was excellent, but at the same time very bad, I was not satisfied.

 I started to contact a company in my area capable of creating such a work of art, I was received with a beautiful smile by the director who was also passionate about flight, but only in literature, he told me that my idea was beautiful  , that they were able to make the record tank to the thousandth, but that they were not willing to give me a hand .... the reason was communicated in my face by the director who in a very bitter way confessed to me that they did not take such a  responsibility and that I could have killed myself with all that gas, if the flight would have gone wrong.

 In the same way, he returned the smile and went away ... aware that what I lent myself to do was something amazing and that I would have taken all the effort to complete it.

 During the night I had a fixed thought on how to make my tank, what seemed the least of my thoughts instead was the first insurmountable obstacle until the moment I met a fiberglass master, I entrusted him with my idea of ​​tank and  over the weekend he was already at the airfield watching my gyroplane.

 He told me it doesn't take anything to make it happen, in the week I start, I didn't believe it, I was incredulous as a child when he receives his much desired gift.

 We found ourselves at the airfield and project in hand made by my engineer friend, I started to disassemble the rear fairing of my gyroplane, I began to explain that I wanted a tank that would take a cue from a passenger sitting with his feet resting, this because it should have been  be so shaped to the vehicle that it is almost an integral part of the fairing.

 The master began to draw up my tank through a series of woods glued with hot glue, and slowly starting what looked like the shape of a tank, the shaping work lasted two days, on the third day, a bit like  a resurrection, the entire tank was removed from the seat, obviously the angular shape did not allow a good result to be seen, until the master began to smooth it, thus obtaining a perfect wooden shape.

 It was then that he sensed that he would have made it, the wooden sgoma was only a base, the tank had to be printed on with fiberglass.

 A few days later the stratification and construction process of the fiberglass model began, in the meantime I took steps to build turned parts to be melted into the model, such as the vent and the fuel filler neck, all pieces made in a workmanlike manner.

 As soon as the tank was shaped, I had to wait a few days to be able to open and remove the two parts, in the center I also had a bulkhead equipped with holes to avoid the shaking of gasoline during the flight, an idea that proved to be brilliant because in flight  he sensed the movement of the liquid in the slightest.

 After the final painting my tank was finally ready !!!

 After the critical phase of construction, I began to think how to fix the large tank to the seat, I thought of elastic bands, but my choice landed on custom-made straps, in fact I detached the seat belts and attached the harness made by  a friend who made curtains and who had sewing machines to do certain sewing jobs.

 My whole project seemed to go in the right direction without a hitch.

 A few days later he started contacting the bodies in charge by email to validate the record, understand the rules and how to proceed, I was told that I had to respect the maximum take-off weight of 560 kg.

 So I started to lighten the car in order to take on as much fuel as possible to travel more km, also carry out a diet where I lost 10 kg always to take on more petrol, I even started to remove even the 5 kg battery and replace it with a 600 grams one, removed  also the seat cushion to replace it with a more comfortable one weighing 1 kg, all details that would have made the difference, also removed the mudguards.

 In the meantime I exchanged emails with the judges who would attend my departure and my arrival, and my diet went on, I went for a run and I woke up early in the morning to simulate the departure and not be sleepy, all details that proved to be fundamental  .

 At the weekend I had finally mounted my tank, mounted the studs, and was ready to carry out my tests.

 Tests that I started to do with the tank full of water for obvious safety reasons, and testing, fill the whole tank almost to the brim, I felt the weight of the machine on the ground, ready to take off, I could not take off, the machine did not  got up, went back to the parking lot in disbelief ... so I started to remove several liters of water, tried again, this time I managed to take off but it was a very risky flight, with the turbo inserted I kept the zero of variometer, I don't hide that I thought I wasn't  do it, and you can barely make a circuit and land.

 I tried to remove water this time I unloaded 30 liters and the machine in flight responded very well I went up to 500 ft per min.  I thought to myself that that would be the starting level.

 The tank was very performing in flight, the machine flew well without any particular droplets perform a flight at maximum speed up to 110 mph without problems was a success !!!  Everything was perfect !!!  I was already seeing the big day before my eyes.

 One thing escaped me during the testing phase that I had tested everything with water, the water weighs 1 lt 1 kg instead the petrol is much lighter even the super blue petrol has a lower specific weight about 700gr per liter so I could have  embark more petrol because it is lighter.

 All details to consider for such a long flight.

 I also applied a transfer pump with a panel switch, this because I would have to decant only when the original tank of the vehicle would have reached 20 liters, otherwise I would have overfilled the tank with petrol, to the point of coming out of the cap, I applied  the rule of communicating vessels, and then the pump would have sucked and decanted to the last drop.

 A final consideration was on how to deal with such a long flight and how to adapt the car to my needs on how to go to the bathroom and what to eat or drink.

 A paraplegic friend of mine gave me the solution, with a system like an adhesive condom equipped with a tube that drains into a bag, in that case I removed the bag and made the tube descend on the front wheel, that would have been the bleeding of my  toilet.  For other things I would have ingested an empty stomach 24 hours before departure which would have solved everything.

 To eat I would have used energy bars and to drink mineral salts to avoid dehydration and concentration during the flight.

 I chose the longest day as June 23, to take advantage of the whole day in maximum light.

 My choice finally fell on the area north of Sicily Caronia, a track much longer than mine of 800 meters and which would have helped me in the initial phase of the flight with a nice wind in the tail, because at that time the wind blew from Nw and  on my starting field I would have been downwind not only increase the risk, but also the consumption of the machine.

 Everything was ready people were enthusiastic about my flight, meanwhile I was churning out articles in the newspapers, on the flight sites, friends, relatives and sponsors that in the meantime I had been looking for was there together with me, together with my record, I was looking forward to  start.

 Three days are left when I receive an email followed by a series of phone calls, I am informed that in addition to the weight of 560 kg on take-off, I have to fly in a straight line, a straight line?  And how do I do in Italy?  Impossible!!!  I was disheartened, unfortunately the rules are these.

 Italy from north to south measures a maximum of 1300 km so I thought?  Should I start from Spain or even from Malta?  But I would not have exceeded 1500 km anyway, I am advised to make a triangular flight with long stretches on the sea, but I don't talk about it I say, mine is a record yes but I can't risk ending up at sea if something goes wrong I think between  me and me, and then at home I have more important reasons not to risk my family.

 I decide to trace a 1500 km long route and take a detour through Italy, the record will not be approved as a world record even if I will travel more km than the current record, but I think I have to start the same, I have many people waiting  my departure, so aware that I will not be able to approve a record for bureaucracy and for some stupid rules, I want to show that both me and the car are ready.

 The judges, however, present my take-off and my arrival, the car is weighed, everything is in order, the flight, however, will be approved as an Italian record, better than nothing, I think to myself, and I'm happy the same, but yes who  cares about Fai.

 At 5:30 in the morning after topping up 260 liters of petrol, having worn my fireproof equipment, I am getting ready to take off, I am a little excited, it is the first time that I have taken off with all this petrol, my thoughts stop as soon as  I start the pre-rotation, I concentrate for take-off, I am already in flight, the machine reacts well I would say very well, I start to make altitude and to follow the coast, I feel fit and above all I am not sleepy !!!

 Stay focused, everything is perfect !!!

 After 13 hours of flight I arrive at my destination I am a little incredulous, I still have a lot of energy and petrol to travel more kilometers, but I think it's okay and I go straight to the landing, but first I make a low passage to greet everyone present  waiting for me.

 When I land is a greeting to the left and right, phone calls, congratulations, I'm overjoyed to have made it.

 The judge is waiting for me at my destination, he checks the gps mounted on board, sealed and signed, everything is in order.

 After downloading the data, he calls me and in front of everyone present he pulls out the data of my record flight

 Takeoff speed 120 km / h

 Distance traveled 1550 km

 Flight time 12h and 57 min.

 I was very happy as well as the amazed present, I broke the world record I flew farther and longer than any other autogyro pilot demonstrating and every record every flight we make nacse first in our dreams and our desires.

 From that day my life has not changed I have always remained the same, I am continuing to fly and to share my passion with my children.