Rotorcraft can generally be divided into two categories: helicopters and gyroplanes (often referred to as gyrocopters or autogyros.) A helicopter uses one or more powered rotors or rotary wings to fly and maintain directional control, while a gyroplane uses a traditional engine and propeller for thrust, and an unpowered rotor for lift.
While helicopters and gyroplanes look superficially similar, there are key differences between the two.
Because their main rotor is powered, helicopters can hover, and takeoff and land vertically, while a gyroplane generally requires a small amount of runway for both takeoff and landing, and can’t hover unless there is a modest wind.
Gyroplanes tend to be simpler, both in terms of operation and construction, but both types can be built from plans or kits, or purchased complete.