At some point in 2001, I was playing a great game on my PC called Crimson Skies. It was created by a company called Zipper Interactive. The main character, Nathan Zachary, is a air pirate in an alternate history version of the 1930s. Instead of a pirate ship, he flew around in a heavily armored and armed Zeppelin. The airship had a hanger full of an airplanes to modify and fly in game missions.
One of the oddest planes was the Autogiro. It was like something out of a science fiction story because it combined the body of a normal airplane and the spinning rotors of a helicopter. Recently, I was very surprised to find out that these planes actually existed!
One of the autogiros was created by a Spanish civil engineer, pilot and aeronautical engineer named Juan De La Cierva. De La Cierva, made many aircraft, but in 1933, he built the very unique Cierva C-30 autogrio. One might look at the C-30 and see an early helicopter, but his main goal was to create a safer aircraft. If the engine shuts off, wind resistance will continue to spin the rotors providing lift and the craft will land gently like maple seed pod does. Autogiro means “self rotation”.
At one point, these aircraft nearly became the first flying car due to their safety and ease of use, but De La Cierva’s sudden death in 1936 ensured that the idea would not catch on.
Cierva C-30 Autogyro
Manufacturer: A V Roe & Co Ltd (Avro), Lioré-et-Olivier and Focke-Wulf.
Years Manufactured: 1933-1936
Created by: Juan De La Cierva
Number Built: 148
Crew: 1 +1 passenger
Max Speed: 110 mph
Length: 19 ft
Height :11 ft
Weight 1,800 lbs loaded
Engine: One 7-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 140 hp, drove both the front propellor and the top rotor.