Burcu and Cem Aydemir from Mersin were inspired by a video and decided to make an air vehicle called a gyrocopter. After a nearly nine-year-long research and development project, the national and local air vehicle GyroTürk is now in mass production. GyroTürk, which is the world’s lightest air vehicle without any need for a platform for landing or takeoff, will be used in a variety of fields such as first aid, education, tourism, and search and rescue. Burcu Aydemir, who recently received an award for entrepreneurship, tells Skylife readers how their adventure to make GyroTürk began and their future goals.
How was the idea to make GyroTürk born?
My dream was not limited to traveling fast and safely, i.e. flying, from one place to another. I also wanted to be able to see the view below me. My husband is passionate about flying but, being more courageous than I am, he’s tried many things such as paragliding and flying a glider. For me, safety is very important, and I did not have the courage to fly like that.
We first saw a gyrocopter in a documentary on TV 10 years ago. It was like a flying motorcycle! Freedom, happiness, practicality, safety -all in one vehicle. It enables you to fly low enough to see everything in detail. “That’s it!” we both thought. My husband said he could make it and that’s how our adventure began.
What are the characteristics of this
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says the gyrocopter is one of the safest designs on the market. It has a rotor in free autorotation to develop lift. They also have engines, but the engine is used not to rotate the rotor or to develop lift but to create horizontal thrust like in airplanes. GyroTürk’s rotor may look like a helicopter rotor, but it has a different principle. A rotor requires a fast air flow around it based on the rotation principle in order to rotate and develop lift. The most important thing that sets the gyrocopter apart from a helicopter is that it cannot stay still in the air but has the ability to fly very slowly and at a low height. It requires a short distance to take off and is only able to do so when it reaches a certain speed. Another thing about the gyrocopter is that, due to its low susceptibility to turbulence and wind, it can fly safely in harsh weather conditions.
You said you’ve been working on this project since 2009. What have you achieved, and what challenges have you encountered so far?
I think the hardest thing was people’s prejudice. They usually thought it was impossible for us to make such an air vehicle. And when we made it, they didn’t believe it could fly. When they saw it fly, they said, “You couldn’t have made this.” On the other hand, we also had some hardships while writing, defending, manufacturing, or deploying the project. However, through experience, it became easier to overcome challenges as people had more belief in us and shared our passion.
What’s the division of labor between you and your husband?
We’re a family, and our aviation company is a family establishment. This gyrocopter is like our child. I planned the investment, wrote the project, found funds, followed the official process, received the necessary flight permissions, managed finances, and promoted the project. My husband, Cem, is an amazing craftsman. He’s responsible for all the manufacture and test processes.
In an interview, you likened GyroTürk to the “women of Anatolia.” Can you elaborate on that?
GyroTürk can overcome the hardest challenges like the women of Anatolia. It can fly in a storm and land on an open field. It can be used for various purposes such as patient transfer, bilge inspection, search and rescue, fire extinction, air taxi, agricultural disinfection, and tourism. It can go on the sea and take off from or land on water. It also offers a unique flight experience for sports. Its cost for maintenance and repair is one-tenth of a helicopter’s. It’s protective and reliable. Just like the sharp wit of the women of Anatolia, GyroTürk is practical in every aspect. I should also add that it has room for improvement.
What would you like to say about the government’s contribution to and interest in your project?
Nobody believed in us when we began to make an air vehicle; they tried to break us down by claiming that it was just a dream. But the government believed in us, had faith in us, and supported us. In 2018, we opened the first gyrocopter factory in Turkey as part of the KOSGEB TECHNO INVESTMENT - SME Technological Product Investment Support Program, and we have begun mass production. Lütfi Elvan, a member of parliament from Mersin who always looks after the region, governor Ali İlhan Su, and a great supporter, Çukurova Development Agency. They greatly contributed to the realization of our project.
Can you talk about your investment plans for GyroTürk?
We opened our factory with the government’s support. We will begin sales in late 2019. As part of the “national and local” principle, we are in the last phase of partnership negotiations with a Turkish company for marketing.
What are your goals for this project?
We aim to make GyroTürk a global brand. We have Turkish Airlines in air transport and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for defense industry; we want GyroTürk to be a part of the category of very light aerial vehicles. Global aviation is improved through the effort of the descendants of the great aviator Hezarfen.
You recently received an entrepreneurship award at “Women Who Give Energy to Turkey.” How did this award inspire you?
I feel stronger because I’ve been supported in my belief and efforts. This inspired me to support other women and youth. Together, we will open new horizons.