German Designed MTO Sport Gyrocopter Comes to Tomball PD
Tomball, Texas, is a small community near Houston. Its police budget is too small to afford its own helicopter, so the town is looking for ways to monitor itself from the air without busting its budget. Tomball has turned to the autogyro, lowly cousin to the costly helicopter, and is likely to come out ahead for having done so.
The MTOsport needs roughly the length of a football field to take off, climbs at 13 feet per second and can hit 115 mph. It’ll hover at a relatively low speed, allowing it to mimic a helicopter circling an area under observation.
...the unpowered rotor makes the aircraft safer than a helicopter because you’re already in auto-rotation. In a helicopter, the pilot has to nose the craft down and hope autorotation starts before the chopper hits the ground. If we lost power now we’d simply glide down.
...The big advantage is, of course, cost. A modern police helicopter ready for service can run anywhere from $1.5 million to $4 million. They’re also expensive to operate, averaging around $1,000 per hour with a two-pilot crew.
The Auto-Gyro MTOsport loaded up with radios and painted costs about $75,000 and about $50 an hour to operate, due in part to the fact that it burns regular pump gas. That’s roughly the cost of buying and operating two top-of-the-line squad cars.
...Tomball can’t justify the cost of a helicopter program, so it has to rely upon Houston or Harris County when it needs one. Coordinating the flight and lining everything up can take an hour or more, if a chopper is available at all. But an officer on standby can have the MTOsport airborne in about 10 minutes, including the pre-flight check. That can make a big difference in a metropolitan county with about 4.1 million people.
“By putting a trained pilot and a trained tactical flight officer in this aircraft up over the city of Tomball and the surrounding area, we’re able to essentially deploy the equivalent of 20 police officers,” Haulk says. _Wired
The autogyro will be grounded at night and during inclement weather. But on the whole, the cost savings from this unconventional aircraft should allow Tomball to foil and solve a wide range of criminal activities, as well as aiding in search and rescue tasks.
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