About a day before arriving in Gulf Shores, Alabama – I received a text that read: “How would you feel about riding in a gyrocopter?” Of course, the first thing I had to do… search the internet and find out what on Earth a gyrocopter was.
“Oh crap” were the words that came out of my mouth when the first image flashed onto my screen. I responded to the text with a question of my own: “Do you know a good pilot?”
Turns out the pilot was a man named Gary Berdeaux and as I’d soon find out – he was better than good. He was incredible. Not just in terms of flying this bizarre looking aircraft, but explaining what makes it unique and in some ways, even safer than a typical airplane.
Mr. Berdeaux’s company, Beach Flight Aviation has been taking tourists for a bird’s eye view of the Alabama gulf coast since 2014. The company’s website describes the flights as “a magic carpet ride in the sky”. Trip Advisor ranks them among the 10 most popular tours in the area.
After getting geared up, with helmets and jumpsuits to keep us warm in the sky, it’s off we launch. It seemed like just a matter of seconds before the two-seater gyrocopter was drifting up high into the atmosphere and eventually hovering over the beautiful beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
Even in gusts of 30 miles per hour, the ride was relatively smooth. Gary explained the science behind the ease of flight during our video interview which is posted below. The size of the aircraft gives you a sense that you’re just up there, floating on clouds.
Even on a gloomy day with rain in the forecast, you can’t help but adore the white sand, emerald water and the acres of preserved nature in nearby Gulf State Park. The tourists riding bikes along miles of pathways look like tiny specs of dust from up in the air. And seeing the traffic below makes you wish you had one of these things for your daily commute.
Landing was the only time that I gritted my teeth, clinched my fists, and braced for the worst. Instead, it was smooth as butter. I was completely stunned that this tiny machine (and Gary’s good piloting) could enjoy such a graceful landing.
“Your reaction was the same one that everyone has” says Berdoux. “Like, that was it? That was easy!”
Beach Flight Aviation offers a variety of tour packages that range from 20 minutes in the air to an entire hour. There is an age and weight limit, which is detailed on their website.
For other fun tours and things to experience in the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area, check out: www.gulfshores.com