Just when I thought I’d end 2020 without a single travel destination, I got to fly a gyrocopter and it was absolutely amazing!
I hadn’t thought of going anywhere since the lockdown started in March 2020 because I didn’t want to take the risk of catching the virus. I told myself that I would only resume traveling once there’s already a vaccine and the COVID-19 cases in the country are no longer alarming. But during the last week of December 2020, I chanced upon a post on Facebook that Fly a Gyro in Ronda, Cebu will be closing on the last day of the year. It was always at the back of my mind to try flying a gyrocopter but I kept passing on the opportunity because I thought, “Maybe next time. It’s always going to be there anyway.”
Alas, the pandemic has forced many businesses to close. There’s no way I’d let this one last chance pass. I don’t know any other gyrocopter tours in the country and I’m not sure when I could travel again.
It was a perfect sunny day when I left home, but then it suddenly rained when I arrived at the airstrip. Yohan, the pilot greeted me and told me that if the heavy rains won’t stop, he couldn’t proceed with the tour. The gyrocopter, he said, is safe to fly even when it is raining. The problem is with the runway. If the runway gets too muddy, it would be too hard to get the gyrocopter to take off.
I was so disheartened. Not only did I travel for 2 hours for this, but it was also my first time in 9 months to actually go out of town. Even the habal-habal driver who drove me to the airstrip was sad too. He badly wanted to see a gyrocopter take off too. I was silent the whole time, but I felt like screaming, “2020, you’ve already messed up my year. Make this one thing happen at the very least!”
After 30 minutes of waiting, the bright rays of the sun dissipated the melancholic grey clouds. Luckily, the runway was not too muddy too!
Yohan then told me a few things about how the gyrocopter works. Basically, we will be flying a vehicle without any power and relying only on air currents for lift and thrust. He gave me an overview of what my flight responsibilities would entail. He also showed me all of the levers, pedals, and other controls so that I could become familiar with them during takeoff/landing time.
We went through all of the emergency procedures, everything from what to do in case there’s a fire or engine failure. The briefing was thorough and seemed like it would be easy for me to remember.
Yohan then helped me climb into the gyrocopter and helped me strap myself in. And then we took off!
We flew above the trees, and soon enough we got up high where there’s no air resistance. It felt effortless! It was amazing how quickly you can get up into high altitudes in a gyrocopter – way faster than with conventional aviation aircraft, which need lots of fuel and thrust to get up high.
I was so happy to be flying a gyrocopter! The air whipped by my helmet, and I could see the ground below me getting farther away as we got higher. It’s been such an amazing experience that has really changed how I think about flight and engineering.
As we were approaching Pescador Island, Yohan then told me he’d do a certain maneuver or spin where he’d let the gyrocopter turn 360°. I can’t seem to remember what he called it, but it was sort of a trick where we would appear spinning and falling from the sky. Oh my, it was the highlight of the entire gyrocopter experience!
I always thought I have a fear of falling. But this experience brought about a new realization that being in heights is actually my comfort zone. Weird, right?
I guess that is what I love about traveling. Exposure to new things brings about new passions and interests. Not until you stumbled upon something new, you wouldn’t have known that it will make you fall in love with it for life. As they all say, the world is big and there is always something new to discover.
We circled around Pescador Island and I was screaming for joy! At one point, I even raised both my arms and didn’t mind that the only thing that was holding my dear life was my seatbelt. We even went lower than expected because there were no tourists on the island. This place is usually flocked with tourists all year round. But due to COVID-19, not a single boat can be found near it.
Right after Pescador Island, we circled back nearer to the mainland and visited the Moalboal coastline. We hovered above Panagsama Beach, White Beach, and other nearby resorts. It’s amazing how flying gives you a whole new perspective about your homeland. I’ve been around Cebu all my life, but I’ve never explored its majestic views from above.
Alas, it was time to go back. The whole flight was supposed to be just 15 minutes, but Yohan added 2 extra minutes for free. There was a point where Yohan could’ve let me control the gyrocopter myself, but didn’t do it anyway. I said, “I’ll let you do the job. I’m just here to have fun and not think about anything.”
We circled back to Ronda. And just like how fast it was to get up on the air, we found ourselves descending into the trees, and back into the runway.
Flying certainly gives you a different perspective of a place. It made me see Cebu with new eyes and extra colors. And I’m so glad that I grabbed the chance to experience this. Once in a while, it’s nice to have new interests that make your heart soar.