AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 71

India, and imported to Costa Rica. Globalization perNOT A HANGAR or office
in the traditional sense,
sonified, Nierhoff has strong opinions on the bike, as
Fly With Us' facility at the
he does with many things. There's climate change (it's
Aranjuez Aero Club houses
happening, but deforestation is the culprit), governthe business, a small classroom, and an expansive
ment regulation (a necessary but unfortunate system),
porch. It's all creatively
yoga and meditation (it was great before the Instagram
built from a shipping conFlying vacation
generation ruined it), electric propulsion (it will never
tainer and bamboo, which
Frank Nierhoff sought for
Fly With Us offers
happen and hydrogen is the future), and bamboo (the
its renewable properties.
guided tours
best and most sustainable building material). In a life
Their AutoGyro MTOsport
that's taken him from learning carpentry in Germany,
2010 easily fits inside.
Fly With Us's other location is in
to flying for an airline, to Canada for bush flying, and
Samara, on Costa Rica's popular Nicoya Peninsula. Nierhoff's
finally Costa Rica to open one of the early meditapartner, Guido Scheidt, flies scenic
tion and yoga retreats, his interest and knowledge of
flights and does instruction in the
gyrocopters is as relatively new as it is deep. Nierhoff
tourist-friendly spot. For gyro pilots
believes the gyroplane, long seen as a fringe recrewho are already certificated, the
ational toy, is perfectly suited to his environment, and
company offers an enticing flying
vacation. The plan is this: Get your
as in many things, he's right.
foreign license validated for Costa
To understand why the gyrocopter is such a great tool here, it
Rica while still at home. Arrive in
helps to understand the country's topography and weather. About
Costa Rica and get checked out in
the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica is home to dozens of microone of its aircraft. Then fly solo or
climates. Throughout its interior, mountains rise to more than
with a passenger on a two-week
guided trip around the country. Fly
12,000 feet. There are 67 volcanos, six of which are active. And
With Us handles all the logistics,
in the span of only a hundred miles the climate can go from West
helps with weather and procedures,
Texas-like desert to lush cloud forest. In general there are two
and generally takes away all the
seasons. From May to November it dawns clear and calm, but by
stress so you can concentrate on
midday it may be raining at a rate of a few inches an hour. For the
flying. Two weeks sounds like a
long time for such a small country,
rest of the year it may rain only a little, or not at all. That's because
but trust us when we say you'll wish
the trade winds come south, and they blow continuously at 30 to
it were twice as long. -IJT
40 knots for months.
Half of Fly With Us's business in Aranjuez is training. Affluent
customers make the two-hour drive from the country's population
center in San José to fly with Frank or Niklas in pursuit of their like you would see in the United States, but they do a great job
certificate. Niklas has been in Costa Rica fulltime since 2011, a of preventing the spread of fires. The country's expertise at fire
year after the business began. He soon earned his pilot certificate prevention is internationally renowned, and the fire service has
and instructor rating, and under Frank's watchful eye, he has been trained Canadians and others on the benefits of their work.
Fly With Us has done a bit of this work alongside helicopters,
doing much of the teaching. Unlike in the United States where an
instructor is let loose before the ink is dry on his or her CFI cer- but Frank said the helicopter would have to land due to strong
tificate, the Nierhoffs believe in the apprentice system where one winds while he could stay on the fire for hours longer. The worst
learns under an experienced teacher and mentor.
fires happen in the northern part of the country, in the area of
The benefits of a gyrocopter are obvious when you study their strongest winds. And close to the fires the turbulence and winds
design-a perfect mix of capabilities between an airplane and a are worse, which would keep the helicopters down. The AutoGyro
helicopter. They can't hover, but they can loiter very slowly and has a direct crosswind limitation of 35 knots, and turbulence is
in a tight area. They aren't as fast or as comfortable as an airplane, much easier to handle. "It's only out of limits in a hurricane," he
but they experience less vibration and a smoother ride than a heli- said. "If we get a strong gust, our autorotation speeds up and we
copter. And the amount of wind they can fly in is astonishing.
simply go up. My rotor is like a damper for gusts."
During dry season the deadly combination of dry ground and
If you look at a map of forest fires and their damage in Central
strong winds means that fire season can be devastating. A gyro- America, Costa Rica stands out as having a fraction of the impact
copter is no heavy water bomber. "We could carry maybe 20 liters that neighboring countries endure. A big reason is the gyrocopof water," Frank jokes. But it is good at observing. Although the ter's other fire mission. Once the fire is out Nierhoff will fly with
Nierhoffs do some active fire spotting, the gyrocopter's best place a fire official and survey the damage. They fly low and slow, takis as aerial coordinator and post-fire spotter. In the coordinator ing detailed photos and creating GPS maps of the damage. The
role they will fly with an official from the fire department. They flying is remote, it's often 90 degrees or more on the ground, and
loiter near the edge of the fire, directing the ground crews to prop- the mountains produce punishing turbulence. "At the beginning
erly position as they do the backbreaking work of clearing brush, I thought, What am I doing? I'm not helping anything, just seeing
chopping trees and bamboo, and creating the important firebreak. where it has burned," he said. "And then learning about firefightFrank said Costa Rica doesn't have extensive fire suppression tools ing and prevention I thought, This is the most important job that
aopa.org/pilot AOPA PILOT | 71


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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 7
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 8
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 9
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 10
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 11
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 12
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 13
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 14
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 15
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 16
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 17
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 18
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 19
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 20
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 21
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 22
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 23
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 25
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 26
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 27
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 28
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 29
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 30
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 31
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 33
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 34
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 35
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 36
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 37
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 41
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 42
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 43
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 45
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 46
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 47
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 48
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 49
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover4
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