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In Howler’s April 2021 issue, we brought you the story of “Gyrocopter Girl,” the social media handle for Switzerland native Cornelia Hajdinyak. We featured her images of Costa Rica from the air, taken while flying around the country in a gyroplane. She also told us about her global travels and favorite locales to pursue another airborne passion — flying helicopters — in addition to kitesurfing, hydrofoiling and mountain biking.

We recently reconnected with Cornelia to catch up on her latest adventures, as follows.

It’s been a year, what have you been up to?

This last year we have been traveling quite a bit in Europe. We have been to the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Italy, France, and of course a lot of flying in the Swiss Alps. During the past two years, we have mainly been flying a helicopter — a Robinson R66. It is so much fun, especially in Switzerland and other countries in Europe that are small and close to get to. 

In addition to the regular PPL(H) license, we also got the mountain rating, which allows us to land on the 42 official mountain landing spots in Switzerland — many of them on glaciers. It is just amazing to have the opportunity and freedom to do this in Switzerland.

Over the winter, we also got our helicopter night rating, which was quite an experience. We had already done some night flying in the U.S., as this is included in the PPL(H). But in Switzerland it is a whole different ball game. Sometimes it was very overwhelming, but we did learn a lot and for sure it made us better and safer helicopter pilots. 

We were fortunate to have a very experienced flight instructor, who mainly flies for REGA as a Swiss rescue pilot. These pilots are some of the most experienced helicopter pilots one can imagine, and we are lucky enough to have had one as a flight instructor. I feel so fortunate and blessed. 

We flew during some very nice full-moon nights in the mountains, but also when there was no moon, some cloud cover, pitch blackness, and sometimes even snowfall. We landed on the most amazing mountain platforms and glaciers, and even on a retention basin wall at 6,000 feet elevation on dark snowy nights. It was just unimaginable for us what a helicopter and pilot are capable of doing … and we learned all of that. 

Sometimes there was no reference except for a super-steep stone mountain wall, which we had to follow along, flying crossways and just lighting it out with our landing lights. We were always prepared for an engine failure (turbine failure) and autorotation. It was very intense, very exciting and just awesome!

 

What brings you back to Costa Rica?

I have always had a soft spot for Costa Rica; I love the amazing landscapes and animals. For me Costa Rica is the place to fly gyroplanes. It is just amazing, and it will always bring us back to Costa Rica. And we are very happy to introduce this beautiful adventure to our friends. Costa Rica is also a wonderful place to energetically clear and ground yourself — a very-much needed and wanted break from so-called civilization, which I think isn’t civilized at all 😉 It is so nice to be barefoot all day long, reconnect with nature, to observe and feel.

 

What is in the near future for you?

Well, I am not much of a planner. I live day by day. Sometimes I wake up in the morning, I look outside, I see clear blue sky and I feel like going on an adventure journey. I have all kinds of ideas; some of them I put into action, some I don’t. I am going through life with an open mind and I am going with the flow. I don’t have anything specific planned for the near future. We have the summer season at our doorstep, so for now we are just happy to have nice sunny weather in Europe and we are enjoying every day to the fullest. 

Today we took some friends for the first time flying in the helicopter; we ended up in a helicopter event that we didn’t even know was taking place. Tomorrow we might be on the water enjoying a kitesurfing or hydrofoiling session. And of course we are planning to fly a lot in the helicopter this summer.

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