The Myrtle Beach police are about to add another weapon to their arsenal in the department’s war on drugs.Color me skeptical. The one in the photo (probably this model) doesn't seem to be overloaded with extra cop gear.
The department received approval Tuesday from the Myrtle Beach City Council to purchase a gyrocopter—essentially a two-man aircraft that’s a cross between a helicopter and an airplane.
The cost of the gyrocopter will be roughly $207,000. This includes the purchase of the aircraft and installing the latest in technology, which Gall said is the most valuable part of the acquisition.
The aircraft will be equipped with the latest in camera and video equipment including thermal imaging and also with spotlights and flares to help the officers on the ground locate the bad guys.
Max gross is 1,234lbs. Empty weight is 595lbs. It holds 19.8 gallons of gas (119 lbs), so there is 390 lbs of useful load left over for the pilot and observer (only an idiot would do low-level spotting solo) and the extra gear they'd like to slap on. And you can pretty much bet that, because the crew will be cops, that they'll have to carry all of their personal duty crap with them.
And if they add a bunch more gear, they'll need the power to run it all, which may mean either swapping in a larger alternator or adding a second one. Homebuilders do that all of the time, but this thing's a certificated aircraft.
This thing doesn't require two pilots, so anyone in the second seat may be "non-required crew", per the FAA, which (as I understand the rules for operating public aircraft), means that they'll have to do 100-hour inspections.
Rotorcraft are not cheap to operate. And because this one will be able to carry no additional people or cargo, the utility of having a rotor seems kind of, well, useless. Gyrocopters can't hover, at least, not for very long. They are basically an autorotating helicopter that is being pushed along by a prop.
Not my call, but they might have saved a bunch of money in both acquisition cost and operating costs by finding a decent used Cub Crafters Cub or Aviat Husky and installing a STOL kit. (Or a Maule or even a 172.)