When I was in school, there were always friends who defied heights by jumping from trees or ladders to see if they could fly.
I even jumped from a moving swing in order to feel the tickling sensation of being suspended in the air for a few seconds, but it wasn’t until a sunny, windy day in January in Sámara that I was able to feel like I was flying.
That day, I boarded a gyrocopter, or autogyro, the helicopter’s predecessor. Its invention dates back to 1923 and experts assure that it’s the safest way to travel through the sky.
Jorge Müller, my pilot during this experience and staff member at Auto Gyro América, told me the same thing dozens of times before takeoff and flying over the beaches of Sámara, Carrillo and Barrigona. “It’s the safest” became my mantra for the trip.
The gyrocopter has a motor that spins its propellers, but it also has a mechanical piece above called a rotor that doesn’t depend on the motor and allows the propellers to spin freely thanks to the wind. In other words, if the motor fails, the gyrocopter has the ability to glide and descend without problems.
I flew for about 20 minutes and, believe me, it was enough time to admire the scenery, which is the greatest part of the whole tour.
Müller, who has been a pilot in Costa Rica for 19 years, knows the area like the back of his hand and points out all the details. We saw crocodiles in the mangrove swamps of Buena Vista River, schools of fish in the sea and hundreds of yellow cortez trees that brighten up the green mountains. Guanacaste is even more impressive from above.
The gyrocopter only has two seats and communicating with the pilot is done through a helmet with an intercom.
It has the versatility to fly just above the sea’s surface or at an altitude of more than 300 meters (985 feet). It can fly fast (150 miles per hour) or slow (15 mph). It can stop suddenly, make turns and descend quickly. It can be full of adrenaline or pure tranquility. Müller gave me a little bit of everything. I wanted it that way, but each passenger can create their own experience.
The chopper I was in was completely open and feeling the wind hit your face or arms is inevitable. That was also part of the adventure for me.
During the flight I started to think, if the girl I was in school would have known that she was someday going to feel what it’s like to fly, would she believe it?