AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 72

COSTA RICA'S vast biodiversity is one of the country's major economic drivers, bringing in billions
of dollars every year in ecotourism. Approximately
a quarter of the country's area is protected by 30
national parks. The Nierhoffs estimate that by
flying gyrocopters just 1,000 hours a year, Fly
With Us could protect the parks from illegal
mining, hunting, and encroachment.

you're doing because this is how we can prevent fires for the next
year." The areas are too large for a drone, the images needed too
detailed for an airplane, and the weather too iffy for a helicopter. Fly With Us is the only operator in the country that can do
this sort of work.
It's not unlike the Nierhoffs' other personal interest: flying for
environmental protection. Costa Rica has 30 national parks, making up roughly a quarter of the country's land mass. The parks
range from small and heavily trafficked-such as the Arenal
Volcano-to remote and inhospitable, such as Corcovado on the
southern Pacific coast. Fully patrolling the parks on the ground is
impossible. And in a country where the per capita gross domestic
product is about $13,000, money from poaching or illegal logging
can be a big deal. To help mitigate these impacts the Nierhoffs
fly with a park ranger, surveying mostly the edges of the parks.
Because the big parks are so vast and remote, most of the illegal
activity occurs at the fringes. That includes farmers who clear
land to expand fields. On the ground, rangers aren't allowed to
pass through the farmer's private property to investigate. A trek
through the forest may take a week. But the gyrocopter can quickly
spot the incursion, and if work in the area is active, a judge will
grant a direct ground-based investigation.
Nierhoff estimates that each hour of flying patrols equals 150
hours of work by car, ATV, or horse. And for 1,000 hours a year,
he estimates Costa Rica could have full national coverage to the
point of deterrence. The time savings is one of the biggest benefits
of operating the gyrocopter. Fly With Us charges the same rate to
students as it does to the government. Even with high fuel prices,
newer aircraft, and all the overhead, the fee is $230 an hour, all in.
That's a massive bargain compared to a helicopter.
The edges of the parks usually have good off-airport landing
sites. But a few years ago the government wanted a survey of damage from a hurricane, which required Nierhoff to fly through the
middle of various parks. "If you go down there, you need six weeks
to get out," he said. "Engine failure is no option." To protect themselves the Nierhoffs and the ranger wear anti-mosquito clothing,
and they bring a small survival kit. "What kills you in the jungle
is not snakes or tigers, it's the insects."
The modern gyrocopter operates with a Rotax 912 or 915
engine, can land in a backyard, take off from a football field, loiter
for hours, cruise at 65 or 70 knots, and take an unmatched level of
wind. There aren't too many aircraft that can teach a new pilot in
the morning and do a fire patrol in the afternoon. But then, there
aren't too many pilots who practice meditation; build their own
facilities; and who can riff knowledgably about microclimates,
future fuels, and climate change, either.
AOPA
EMAIL ian.twombly@aopa.org
72 | AOPA PILOT December 2020



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
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 24
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
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 32
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
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 38
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 39
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 40
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 41
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 42
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 43
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 44
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
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 50
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 51
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 52
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 53
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 54
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 55
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 56
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 57
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 58
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 59
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 60
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 61
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 62
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 63
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 65
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 66
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 67
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 68
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 69
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 70
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 71
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 72
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 73
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 74
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 76
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 77
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 78
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 79
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 81
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover4
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