Gyrobee based on the Hollman Bumblebee


Don Chubb lifts the Gyrobee off for its first flight back in June of 1990.


Because the Gyrobee features in so much of what I used to write for Rotorcraft magazine, it has become a rather well known aircraft. This has led to a lot of questions which I hope to answer here on the Gyrobee Page. Before I get to that however, there are a few important points which have to be made.

First, the Gyrobee is not a commercial product. There are kits and components on the market (Star Bee Gyros provides everything a Gyrobee builder might need), but I am not connected to the company and I am not selling plans. Since I’m not trying to sell you something, you might find it easier to believe what I have to say about the machine – that’s up to you!Second, because aircraft like the Gyrobee are plans- or scratch-built projects (unless you buy a Starbee kit!), they will require a significant investment in time to build. These aren’t weekend kits! If you aren’t sure a scratch-built machine is what you want, you would be better off with a kit ultralight or Experimental machine.

Third, the Gyrobee was designed from the ground up as a no-compromise, Part 103-legal aircraft. The features incorporated into the Gyrobee assure that it has the characteristics you want from an ultralight – legalityease of handling, and a decent level of performance. Design features to accomplish this often run counter to current design trends in Experimental machines. Ultralights (fixed-wing or gyro) that work well are not simply scaled-down Experimental models and different approaches are often required. You don’t have to believe this, but don’t say I didn’t warn you! Every feature of the Gyrobee is there on the basis of careful ultralight design considerations, backed up by extensive flight testing.

Award-winning Gyrobees

The Gyrobee is intended to be a very simple, entry-level gyroplane. As such, it tends not to get as much attention at typical fly-ins as the bigger “heavy metal” machines. However, some builders have done such a fine job on their machines that they are difficult to ignore. The links below will take you to “Completions” pages for several builders who have put together award-winning aircraft!

 John Landry, Reserve Grand Champion Rotorcraft, Arlington, 2000

 James Lee, Ken Brock Freedom Fly-in, El Mirage, 2002

 Barry Kropelin, Best Workmanship, Bensen Days, 2004

 Rick Martin, Grand Champion Gyroplane, Bensen Days, 2006

No Gyrobee Listing in the PRA Directory (Again)!

Despite the fact that the Gyrobee is increasingly popular and an entry-level and ultralight gyroplane, the annual PRA (Popular Rotorcraft Association) directory issue (2005) has again failed to list the machine. The aircraft was listed for about 10 years, starting in about 1991, and it is interesting to note that, in those days, it was an annual Rotorcraft Directory issue. In recent years in has morphed to a Manufacturers Directory, and the Gyrobee has disappeared. At least they do list Starbee this year, but you won’t find a Gyrobee entry. I have decided to stop asking why, since all I get in reply is a liberal dose of attitude. Anyway, despite a complete lack of “official” recognition, the machine is alive and well and more popular than ever.

 The Gyrobee and Center-Line-Thrust

Having a close alignment of the engine thrust-line with the vertical center of mass/gravity, in conjunction with an effective horizontal stabilizer, is generally regarded as the most effective way to achieve pitch stability is light sport gyroplanes. Although it may not look like a center-line-thrust machine, the Gyrobee owes its exceptional flight stability to just that fact. What is important is that you realize why the Gyrobee works as well as it does so you don’t make “improvements” that will actually degrade stability.

Gyrobee Airframe Specifications

Some of the physical aspects of the airframe

Gyrobee Performance Specifications

These are real-world specs that you can have some confidence in for two reasons – they are backed up by the experience of every Gyrobee builder and, no one is trying to sell you something!

Gyrobee Design Features

Why things are the way they are.

The Gyrobee and the Bumblebee

The derivation of the Gyrobee from Martin Hollmann’s pioneering Bumblebee design.

Gyrobee Stability and Handling

Pilots evaluate the handling of the Gyrobees..

Gyrobee Landing Gear Options

You have two choices, so which way should you go?

Engine-out Landings in a Gyrobee

Engine failures are all to common when flying with two-stroke engines. With some basic training and the right mind-set, the resulting dead-stick landing can be a non-event.
Gyrobee Photo Tour

Pictures of just about every feature of the aircraft.

Gyrobee Documentation

Complete documentation package (131 pages of text and drawings) now available for downloading.

 The Gyrobee and Sport Pilot

Although the Gyrobee was designed for Part 103 (Ultralight) operation, there is no reason why it cannot be flown under the Sport Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft (SO/LSA) rules which will be going into effect in September, 2004. There are some advantages to the SP/LSA option so you may want to follow-up on this new opportunity.

 Don and Ralph Build a New Gyrobee

Follow our adventures as we build a second Gyrobee during the summer of 2004.

landry10.JPG (112010 bytes)

When the EAA went looking for a nice gyro to use in an article illustrating what kind of aircraft you could fly under the new Sport Pilot rule (EAA Sport Pilot Magazine, September 2004), they happened to pick a fine photo of John Landry  and his award-winning Gyrobee at the EAA Arlington fly-in. John built his Bee as an Experimental Amateur-built and it is loaded with “goodies”, including a transponder!

Related Pages

Builder’s Corner

Your connection to the Gyrobee builders/pilots community!

Summer 1998

Some of the summer fly-in events the Gyrobee has attended.

Summer 1999

More summertime adventures.

2000 Events

Don and Ralph, the intrepid gyronauts, stumble through another flying season!

 Bees of Bensen Days – 2004

 Bees of Mentone – 2004
Gyrobee Logo

Back in 1991 I developed a logo for the Gyrobee so that we could have some t-shirts made up at one of the local printing companies. Click here to download a .gif file of the logo. At the original image size it is suitable for coffee mugs and baseball caps. By increasing the image size, it would work for jackets, t-shirts, etc. Most printing/copy companies can have these items made up for you is you supply them with a print at the scale you want.

Gyrobee Cross-country Flight Standings

Late in 2001 I got the idea of recognizing significant cross-country flights by Gyrobee pilots. Check out this page and see what other pilots have accomplished.

Ralph E. Taggart (


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