Two former Luminati Aerospace employees have launched an innovative aviation startup out of Long Island MacArthur Airport.
Luminati’s former chief pilot Robert Lutz and its media relations manager Kristen Steinhardt have opened the first gyroplane dealership and training center in the Northeast at the Islip airport.
The pair founded Gyro Revolution after becoming enchanted with the lightweight, two-person recreational aircraft a few years ago.
Although gyroplane technology has been around a long time, the new generation of gyroplanes is cutting edge, Steinhardt said. Made of lightweight composite materials, they are equipped with modern avionics and the latest aviation-grade engines.
“In the 1950s theylooked like flying lawn chairs,” Steinhardt said. The new generation is sleek, sporty, safe and fuel-efficient.
“We fell in love and had to find out more about them,” she said.
In 2017, Lutz and Steinhardt headed to Europe where they tested a variety of gyros across the continent and report being “mesmerized by the superior maneuverability, stability and excitement of these new aircraft.”
The pair became convinced that that gyroplanes presented “an exciting opportunity to tap into the underserved domestic market for recreational aviation.”
Gyro Revolution sells aircraft manufactured by companies in France and Bulgaria. The planes have a gross weight of under 1,300 pounds and carry two crew: a pilot and a passenger. The craft whose engines burn only three to five gallons of automotive gasoline per hour, are fuel-efficient.
In flight, the rotors of a gyroplane are powered by airflow rather than a motor.
“This means that gyroplane rotors cannot stall – in an unlikely event of an engine failure were to happen, the gyro is already in stable, easily controlled glide, allowing time for a safe landing spot to be located,” says Lutz, 37, a test pilot with 8,000 hours flight time.
Forward thrust is provided by an engine-driven propeller in the rear of the aircraft. The planes cruise at 100 mph and typically fly at altitudes of about 1,000 feet — though they can fly as high as 18,000 feet, Lutz said.
And unlike helicopters, the gyroplanes are quiet, Lutz said. In noise testing for acceptance in Switzerland the DTA J-Ro, one of the two gyroplanes sold by Gyro Revolution, produced 62.4 dB, according to the manufacturer.
“In your house, you wouldn’t even know it went by,” Lutz said. “It’s a very neighborly aircraft.”
With models starting at $95,000 — the price of a sports car — they represent an accessible, affordable alternative to helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.
Gyro Revolution offers a variety of flight training and certification classes.
Gyro Revolution also offers “discovery flights” — 15, 30, 45, and 60 minute gyro flights starting at $100.
Both Lutz and Steinhardt, who is 24 and a graduate of Farmingdale State College, are Long Island natives.
“We’re pursuing our American dream,” Lutz said in a phone interview yesterday.
Luminati Aerospace cofounder Daniel Preston is not involved in any way in Lutz and Steinhardt’s new company.
“In a way, I guess you could say this is a cool spin-off” of the Calverton startup that bought the Skydive Long Island site in late 2015.
“Luminati didn’t pan out,” Lutz said, “but the dream team was awesome. It’s been a great network for us.”
Lutz said he’s still in touch with many members of the Luminati team, who’ve been a great source of advice and support.
“I’ve always admired the history of aviation on Long Island, the ‘cradle of aviation,’ from the test flights in the early 1900s to Grumman’s development of the F14,” Lutz said. “I feel very proud that Gyro Revolution will continue this narrative of Long Island leading the way in innovative aeronautics.”
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