Start at 2 minutes 45 seconds for video of Samara of Efoiling!
Howler has a special treat for readers with this double feature about a Costa Rican adventure and global adventurer telling her story. Buckle up and enjoy the ride with a remarkable woman of the world who we’ll refer to by her social media handle, Gyrocopter Girl. Prepare to be amazed and inspired by this Switzerland native’s ability to feel right at home in the skies of almost anywhere, any way she is trained to fly.
We’ll start with the passion that drew Gyrocopter Girl to my attention one day during an Instagram inspiration quest. Just a few glimpses were irresistible. I had to see and learn more. In response to my questions came these introspective reflections on an adventure-filled life and fascination for all things flying.
Share about your experiences in Costa Rica and what makes it unique?
Costa Rica is a bit like Switzerland, a very small country but so versatile. It is just the perfect size to explore by gyroplane. The weather and temperatures are beautiful. I believe during the dry season, almost any day is a flying day in Costa Rica.
It is wonderful to travel in an open gyroplane in weather conditions like that — exploring remote beaches and lush tropical forests, following rivers, seeing waterfalls and volcanos, and overflying beautiful turquoise waters, all with so many wonderful creatures.
The beauty of Costa Rica lies in the country’s nature and animals. I think there is no better way to explore Costa Rica than in an open gyroplane. We saw crocodiles, mantas, stingrays, dolphins, whales, sharks, turtles and a huge tapir while flying. It is just magical!
When you go on a guided gyroplane tour through Costa Rica, you usually fly about three or four hours a day. Then you stay in a jungle lodge, b’n’b or a hotel and enjoy the beach, tropical forest or some hot springs. If you like flying, this should definitely be on your bucket list. You won’t regret it!
Where is home?
I was born and raised in Switzerland, so I guess Switzerland is my home. But for me home is wherever I feel good. I am not the typical tourist who travels from one place to the other in a short period of time. I like to stay for longer in one place and really get to know this place. So home is where I am living for the moment.
What are your top three sporting endeavors?
If you consider flying a sport, flying is for the moment my top favorite, no matter what I fly. I do tend to like flying helicopters a tiny bit more than flying a gyroplane or a plane, but I like all of them. I guess you could say my favorite flying apparatus always depends on the mission.
In second place are kitesurfing and hydrofoiling. I love every activity on, in or under the water. Being surrounded by water makes me happy.
Number 3 is mountain biking which I mostly do when I am in Switzerland or the south part of France — such lovely landscapes for biking.
Where all have you been?
That is a difficult one to answer. I have been all over the world. I used to work as a flight attendant, so I have been in so many different places. The first few years I spent mainly in all the big cities of the world. Then I worked for a charter airline and flew to all the pretty vacation destinations, which was awesome.
But the countries where I have spent time on a regular basis are: Switzerland, Aruba, France, Germany, USA, Costa Rica and Italy.
Win any competitions?
Ha ha ha! I don’t like competitions, because I am a very bad loser. So if I participate in any competition I need to be sure I end up in the top 3 rank; otherwise I don’t sign up for it.
I did participate in the Aruba Hi-Winds long-range kitesurfing races, but only because my boyfriend and another friend talked me into it at the last minute. I wasn’t prepared at all but I knew my skills. I gave it 100% and ended up in third place, which was amazing considering that the other girls had been training for this event for months and I just showed up without any preparation at all. I also became Queen of the Air, for the longest airtime jump, in a small competition between kitesurf buddies.
When I was 12 years old, I competed against other runners in a 100-meter local race that was held every September as a Funfair event in the village where I grew up. I signed up because the winning prize was a brand new bicycle, and I really wanted that bicycle. My father trained hard with me; every day after work, he went with me to the running track and stopped my times. I was definitely ready for that race and won first place. Girls and boys were in separate categories, but I ran so fast, that I even beat the best boy’s time. Unfortunately, that year the organizers had not found a sponsor for the bicycle prize. So I ended up with a bicycle store voucher for a couple hundred bucks, but not enough for a bicycle. You can only imagine my disappointment when I found out! My parents had to jump in, and they bought me a brand new pink bicycle. I loved it, even after I outgrew that bike, I didn’t want to give it away.
How did you begin your adventurous life?
I was born adventurous. I was barely afraid of anything. I was always hanging out with the boys, always up for tests of courage and also trouble — kids’ stuff. My parents were really active doing all kinds of sports: swimming, hiking, bicycling, skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, rollerblading, ice skating, etc. So it was normal that I did all of those things too.
But my life really jump-started when I met my boyfriend. Shortly after we met, he “forced” me into a four-week vacation in the Caribbean. I was like, ”Really … four weeks hanging around on the beach? Boring.” Well it was anything else but boring! I never had time to hang around on the beach, but spent the whole day on the water to learn windsurfing.
Shortly after that vacation I learned scuba diving, snow kiting, kitesurfing, wakeboarding and driving a motorbike. My boyfriend took me catamaran sailing, motor boating and paragliding. Between working as a flight attendant and spare time with my boyfriend, my life was filled with action. There was never a dull moment, and still isn’t.
In 2012, my boyfriend saw a YouTube video about gyroplane flying. I still remember that instructor’s name, Mike Burton from Spanish Fork, Utah. My boyfriend asked me: “Hey what do you think about learning to fly a gyroplane?” Always up for an adventure. I replied, “Yes sure, why not?!”
I am the dispatcher in our relationship, so I am responsible for organizing our adventures including paperwork. There was so much paperwork involved to learn how to fly a gyroplane in the United States that I was looking for an easier solution. I found it in Germany, where we started taking gyroplane flying lessons. After the gyroplane license followed the ultralight fixed wing license, and the PPL(A) in the U.S. and Switzerland. Then came the ultralight helicopter license in Italy, and the PPL(H) in the U.S. and Switzerland, including our Swiss mountain rating.
In 2020 we started our training for the instrument rating, we passed the written exam and finished two-thirds of the training. All we had left to do was cross-country flying and the practical exam, but unfortunately we had to postpone that.
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