Above & Beyond: Jump Ship

Above & Beyond: Jump Ship

On a cool day, with a bit of wind and a light load, the Kellett jump giro could leap straight up some 15 feet, gain forward speed, and climb out. But in hot weather and still air, with a full load of fuel and a passenger, it merely lurched upward, relying on its straining engine and propeller to pull it out. (Courtesy E. Stuart Gregg)
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When I was sent overseas for combat duty in 1944, the YO-60s were still sitting on the ramp at Orlando, with no one there authorized to fly them. I later heard that a few jump giros were sent to Texas to join the conventional autogiros the border patrol used, and that every YO-60 crashed. Having been fortunate enough to have flown 150 hours without an accident in this imperfect, somewhat dangerous, but strangely enjoyable aircraft, I wasn’t surprised.

Nearly 60 years after the fact, I can now confess that in spite of regulations and common sense, I often used a YO-60 to fly home for lunch, landing in my front yard. I also flew it to the local golf course, where I landed on the ninth fairway, parked behind the caddy shack, and put in a quick nine holes of therapeutic golf.

—E. Stuart Gregg

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