I present to you:
CK's Intermediate Guide to Gyrocopter Piloting
This Guide assumes you already know the basics of flying a Gyrocopter, such as sharp vs. sweeping turns, or landing without taking obscene amounts of damage. But we'll get to all the fun stuff you can do with those skills later. First things first:
One of the most important aspects of flying a Gyrocopter comes way before you ever step onto the big yellow button. Where you put your Pad determines, among other things, how effective you'll be, and how long you'll be able to remain that way.
Obviously, circumstances dictate different placement strategies, and often the best choice is to stick the Pad right in between several Turrets at your base, but this isn't always the case. Particularly on larger maps, it may behoove you to find some obscure corner of the land, drop a Mineshaft (and possibly a Mini-shop) and place the Pad there instead. This is because for a contraption that's as potentially devastating but extremely fragile as the 'Copter, the element of surprise is everything (I'll explore this later in more detail. For now, just take it as given that if an enemy sees your Pad before you even have a chance to take off, you won't be a happy Mecc when you arrive at a base bristling with anti-air artillery).
Note, however, that 'obscure corner' does not mean as far up (or out to sea) as you can get without hurting yourself, mainly because you can't access these places swiftly by way of Mineshafts. If it takes you longer than, say, six seconds to get from inside your Command Center to within visible distance of your Pad, you're doing something wrong- so if you're not putting it in your base, make sure that you are putting it somewhere easily accessible by Mineshaft (ie. above flat ground or shallow water). You need to be able to be in the air ASAP after realizing the opportune moment for a Gyrocopter strike is approaching.
As far as that goes, there's a fairly simple build order I use when constructing such an outpost: start off with a Mineshaft tucked safely away inside your Command Center, preferably to the left of your build pad (opposite the turret control pad) so it's harder to get confused on your way in. (This is so that if an opponent happens by your base at this point, he won't immediately know you're planning on outsourcing anything. You could get a buddy to play decoy by hanging around near the enemy base with a dud Smartie on his back, and then place the first Mineshaft in plain sight, but that's highly dodgy psychological warfare, and there's no guarantee that they'd take the bait and assume you're about to perform a shaft rush. Also, placing the shaft inside the Comm Center goes a long way towards protecting it- something fairly important, because if one end is destroyed the other goes too: not only will you be disconnected, you'll also have to spend twice as long building your transit network back up.)
Then, grab a Smartie with the other end of the Mineshaft and a Jetpack upgrade (to offset the weight of the Smartie and generally make life easier), and make your way to wherever you need your Pad to be. Drop the shaft, head through, exchange your jobless Smartie for one with a Pad, and run back through the shaft again. Rinse and repeat with a Mini-shop if necessary. You're now 'Copter-capable, you've accomplished that quickly and without distracting your teammates from bringing the pwn, and if you've done it right, the Millenium Bombs will be exploding around your enemies' ears before they even knew you had the blasted machine.
This strategy is slightly ruined in games featuring Kabuto, simply due to the greater likelihood of His Immenseness accidentally stumbling across such a comparatively frail outpost, but again, use your discretion.
So, now you've got the 'Copter and you're in the air- what next?
A Second Glance at the Obvious
If you've flown a Gyrocopter for any length of time against any degree of forcible resistance, you'll have noticed several things:
- It's fast
- It's lightly armed, except for when it isn't
- When it isn't, the hardware is in extremely short supply
- It's fragile
- Did I mention this sonovagun is fast?
First and foremost, the 'Copter is an aircraft. The entire point of using an aircraft is that there's a whole other dimension it's possible to move in, which your enemies can't move in (at least not as well as you can), which gives you an immediate and significant advantage (especially given the fact that the 'Copter is a rotary-wing aircraft, and is therefore at least as mobile vertically as it is horizontally). This means that any second you're not using and abusing this advantage is a second your enemies can and will use against you. And I don't just mean getting as high up as possible.
Think of it this way: you don't run at an enemy with your guns blazing, and when you're retreating you don't do it in a straight line. You dodge, you weave, you even duck behind cover if it's available. There's precious little of that in the air, unless you build yourself a Tower, but those can be used against you so we'll exclude them from our strategies. Instead, you need to focus as much as humanly possible and then some on keeping your 'Copter in continuous, constantly changing motion in all directions at once. This is because as you move swiftly along any of the three spatial axes you have at your disposal, there will always be a point from which you will appear to be going in a straight line, and if an opponent is at this point he will find it very easy to shoot you.
Since you cannot possibly account for all opposing players, outside of a little tactical insight and a lot of good old-fashioned instinct, your job is to make sure this point never stays in the same place long enough for someone to capitalize on it. Do that, and the chances of someone actually hitting you are negligible: by moving this way, you minimize the chance of someone finding this point of stable motion; by doing it quickly, you minimize the chance that even if they find it, they'll notice their advantage before it's gone; and even if someone beats these formidable odds, they still have to actually take aim and fire.
Secondly, the 'Copter is an assault vehicle. I put that in italics both because it's that important, and because a lot of people don't quite seem to realize it. It has guns and it has bombs, and it has them for a reason. It is not a transport vessel. It is not a Pop-up Bomb vector. It is a craft for going out and making people miserable with. If it is not immediately obvious when an opponent sees it in the sky that things are going badly for them, you are doing something wrong. (Come to think of it, you're doing something wrong if people have time to think that things are going badly for them before this becomes terminally irrelevant, but we'll get to that later.)
The 'Copter is not a very sturdy piece of machinery. As far as structural integrity is concerned, your greatest enemy when you're flying one of these things is a skilled sniper, more even than a locked-on homing weapon, because a direct hit (and it's impossible to score any other kind of hit with a sniper weapon) will instantly drop you to an impractically low level of health. There are precautions you can take to avoid being hit by a homing missile, but there is precious little you can do against a sniper who knows where you are and how fast you're going. Now, you might say, "even just two people with homing missiles can make short work of a Gyrocopter", and for the most part you'd be right. What you would fail to grasp, however, is that these two people do not necessarily know they need to be using homing missiles, and the time it takes them to realize and equip themselves accordingly should be all the time you need to do whatever you need to do and get gone.
This is because the 'Copter is one mother of a mover. It is the single fastest thing of any kind in the entire game, except for when it isn't, and when it isn't faster in absolute terms, it's got the ability to outperform in the long term (and since we're talking aerial combat, 'long-term' means longer than, say, three seconds) anything that can keep up with it in the short term. Unassisted Meccs (even with Jetpack upgrades)? No chance. Reapers on Skis? Forget it. A sprinting Kabuto? Close, but no cigar. The only thing that comes close is a Reaper using Turbo, but the 'Copter surpasses this ability in two important regards:
- It is slightly cheaper
- It has the words "Don't Panic"- oh, wait, that's another Guide.
What's even more interesting, however, is that for all its potential, there is one thing a Gyrocopter absolutely cannot do, and that is air-to-air combat. It is possible, of course, to match speed and course with an enemy 'Copter and blow it to little pieces with your Rotary Cannon, but it requires absolute oodles of coordination, skill and a modicum of precognition, because not only are you keeping yourself abreast of an entity every bit as maneuverable as you are, you're doing so while keeping your Cannon aimed just the right distance ahead of him. I practice this skill by playing the Mecc base-building mission in single-player mode over and over, trying to kill the squadrons of Jetpack Reapers after they crest the hill with the Smartie hatch and the Ripper barracks, but before they come within range of my SAM Turrets, and it's a rare occurrence when I actually manage it. This has partly to do with the fact that you need to be able to see where your bullets are going, and when you're that high up, you're more likely to be looking at your bullets against the sea, which makes them almost impossible to see.
And while we're still on the subject of air-to-air combat, forget about using Millenium Bombs- while they're so obscenely powerful that even the backflash from a badly-aimed or badly-timed strike is enough to destroy a 'Copter at full health, they travel even slower than Cannon bullets and it's a downright acrobatic feat of dexterity to hit the Throw Grenade key while keeping up with an evasive 'Copter. (You could try ambushing a low-flying pilot with a Bomb on either side of his projected path, but again, this approach is highly situational and requires more than a little intuition.) The point is this: if you see an enemy 'Copter in the sky, warn any unoccupied teammates you may have to pick up some anti-aircraft artillery, and get on with what you were doing. If you don't have any such teammates to speak of, follow the 'Copter and try to harrow the pilot in such a way that he has to choose between getting shot down by your SAMs and getting blown up by your Cannon. (If you're in the air and you don't have SAMs, find the nearest real-life wall and bang your head into it. Repeat as necessary.) Finally: if, for some reason (probably sheer zaniness on both players' parts), you find yourself in a dogfight with an enemy in a Gyrocopter, simply remember the three rules of aerial combat.
- See your enemy first.
- Hit your enemy first.
- Realize that your enemy also knows rules 1 and 2.
So, now you know what the 'Copter can and can't do. The next issue, then, should be how to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses, and thereby achieve maximum effectiveness. There are several ways to do this, depending on which strengths you choose to exploit and which weaknesses you choose to work around, but it's impossible to cover all your bases with the same 'Copter, and concordant with Newton, for every tactical approach there is an appropriate and opposite defensive strategy. Therefore, you should not take any of these methods as set in stone, for a rigid doctrine is a predictable one, and as the Dutch say, "a warned man counts for two". Instead, seek to develop a method for adapting your tactics to the situation at hand, and you will become a very formidable opponent. Knowing your enemy and yourself may be half the battle, but more than half of what's left comes from being able to take data from your environment and interpret it according to possible actions on your part. Of course, these tenets apply equally to any other sort of combat, but they're so fundamental that it's worth repeating them here.
Now then. The principal aspect of any successful Gyrocopter assault, so defined because it does the best job of tackling many problems at once, is one that should be obvious by now, but at the expense of my dignity I'm going to state it again, just for posterity.
It is this:
A pilot who has lost the element of surprise prematurely (I say prematurely since you're going to lose it sooner or later) is a pilot who's about to lose a whole lot more. If you don't have it, get it. No exceptions, of any kind. Ever. It's that simple. If that means abandoning a perfectly good 'Copter in midair outside the enemy base, so be it. If that idea bothers you then you should have worked harder to keep the element of surprise on your side. A fine kettle of Meccs you'd have if, just as you were preparing to visit some righteous Millenium Bomb justice upon your enemies in true death-from-above style, someone got careless and betrayed your position, giving the enemy enough time to stock up on proximity and homing weaponry. Fifteen Flares (the maximum any one 'Copter can ever carry, and even then I'd advise against flying with teammates, because only a very small part of the pilot's time is spent actually attacking, and any other time your buddies are just baggage) sounds like a pretty stiff missile defense system, but that won't help you when proximity missiles are exploding left and right.
By gaining the element of surprise, you alleviate the chief among a 'Copter pilot's problems: that of your fragility. People can only capitalize on your lack of capacity for withstanding a good pummeling if they can hit you, and to do that they need to know you're coming a good bit before you actually arrive (unless they're masters in the art of the potshot, but this Guide assumes a proportionate rarity of such godlike individuals). Also, by ensuring that your enemy doesn't know you're coming, you make the most of your mobility: if they don't know you're coming, they certainly don't know what direction you're coming from. And since you can come from literally any direction but directly beneath them, this goes a long way towards ensuring your survival, because once they realize you're coming they'll guess at the direction, and the ratio of possible directions to the one you're actually taking makes a wrong guess extremely likely. To illustrate: if a Millenium Bomb goes off unexpectedly inside the enemy base, they'll scramble for homing and proximity missiles and (probably) flock to the side of their base that faces yours. If you're coming from the diametrically opposite side, that's a good three or four seconds you have on them (however long it takes for your next Bomb to go off).
Another obvious way to exploit your 'Copter's capabilities is to make full and unadulterated use of the extra dimension available to you. The only players that have any kind of leverage in the third dimension are Meccs, and without Gyrocopters, their Jetpacks are little more than glorified pogo sticks, better-suited for distance than altitude. On top of this is the fact that the game simply does not render things further than its draw distance; this includes vertically. If you're high enough up, the properties of the game engine will serve you better than any cloaking field or Stealth Bush. Three or four Nitro boosts, while holding down the Thrust key and not moving in any other direction, will take you far enough up to cause the game to stop rendering detail, even on the ground directly below you. The obvious problem here is that they can't see you, but you also can't see them; the solution is to use your map. You should know the basic layout of the map you're playing on; fly to where you think their base is, get even higher up than you already are, double-tap your Show Map key, and in between those taps get a glimpse of your surroundings. Then, as you'll have stopped exerting thrust as soon as you turned on the map, slow your descent so that you don't fly within drawing distance of the ground and repeat. If you're careful, you can descend to a height that allows you to see enemy buildings, but prevents SAM Turrets from locking on to you; always remember, however, that if an enemy is watching the sky, the cat vacates the bag fairly rapidly.
So now you're hovering somewhere above the enemy base, you've got three Millenium Bombs at your disposal, and... hmm. Three Millenium Bombs isn't very many. Luckily, there are solutions to this problem, too. The first and most obvious one is to get some teammates to accompany you (and I mean in separate 'Copters: you're allowed three of them at any given time, and if you have the numbers, you should be making full use of them. If you're in a Mecc vs. Mecc game with five people per team, you can't afford to lose more than one footsoldier for your air force, but in larger games, the more Gyrocopters you have out and about, the worse it is for your enemy). Barring that, you'll have to make the most out of what you have. And again, what you have is mobility: the ability to get from place to place exceedingly quickly and efficiently. The idea here is that you can drop your bombs, scoot off back to your Pad, reload and repeat, thereby solving the problem of limited ammo supplies.
(For now you should forget about using your Rotary Cannon; it's next to useless against buildings, because to do any serious damage you have to remain in or near the same place to keep your aim steady and that's almost always a terrible idea. Furthermore, at 150 rounds per 'Copter per loadout, you don't have enough bullets to make it a useful base-destruction weapon unless you have two teammates with you. The Cannon is good for one thing, and that's hunting down stray enemies, but I'll talk about that later.)
Dropping the Bomb
As far as bombing tactics go, there are two possible strategies that represent the ends of a reasonably short spectrum. You can go for wide, area-effect flyover bombing, or you can try for precision-targeted dive bombing. Flyover bombing is the safest, of course, as it doesn't require you to get close to your target, and as long as the target isn't moving it's still reasonably accurate. In fact, it's possible to execute a flyover bombing run from outside the game's draw distance: Millenium Bombs have an infinite range, and don't explode until a good second and a half after they've stopped moving (and that's assuming they don't hit anything damagable, which when bombing buildings is a pretty daring assumption). All a run like that requires is reasonably precise knowledge of where the things worth blowing up are.
If you're planning on executing a bombing run of any kind, there are several things you must remember. One is that the Gyrocopter's fuel and Nitro displays are linked to your own; in technical terms, and aside from the weapon restrictions, getting into the 'Copter merely means a significant positive modifier to your fuel recharge rate, a similar modifier to your Nitro recharge rate, the removal of the touchdown requirement for Nitro recharge and a boost in speed- in effect, a bigger and flashier Jetpack upgrade. (I say Nitro recharge rate because, contrary to what the manual says, it doesn't actually recharge the instant you hit the ground. If your Jetpack is still firing, it can take anywhere between two and three seconds, even if your character is standing firmly on the ground, and sometimes even longer if you're moving at the same time.)
The most important detail here is that the modifiers to your spatially motive faculties which you get from piloting a 'Copter are cumulative with ones you get from wearing certain backpacks. Specifically, if you wear a Jetpack upgrade and jump into a 'Copter, your Nitro will recharge about 1.5x faster, and there will be no extra weight for the 'Copter to cope with. Conversely, if you grab a Pop-up Bomb, you'll be a lot heavier- turns go wider, you'll fall a lot quicker, and you'll find it more difficult to gain altitude without using the Nitro. Even with the boost, the trajectory of a falling and rapidly climbing 'Copter will be a lot less sharp when the pilot has a Pop-up Bomb. (I assume a Deployable Turret would have much the same effect, but to a lesser degree; however, I don't usually have any of those to spare, so I've never tested that.)
There's no point in taking any other backpacks, as you can't use them in-flight. You could conceivably carry a Repair Gun, land when you've taken damage, repair the 'Copter and be on your way, but this requires a quiet place to land, and it doesn't give you back your ammo, so often it's better to head back to base, blow your current 'Copter up and get a new one rather than sacrifice the boost in Nitro recharge rate for a little mobility that you probably won't need after you've (ahem) shot your load. It's also possible to jump out, switch on a Shield and jump back in, but once the fuel runs out (which it will, and sooner than you'd think, as the 'Copter doesn't actually have more fuel than an unassisted Mecc: again, it just takes fuel consumption way down and fuel recharge way up) it'll deactivate, and you'll be forced to freefall for longer than may be healthy before you can fly properly again.
Now, I can imagine you might be wondering, "Jetpack upgrades yes, but what's the point of purposefully making yourself so much heavier?" I'll tell you. You see, the trajectory followed by a 'Copter during a successful bombing run, when viewed from above, looks like a perfectly straight line, whether it's a dive or a flyover bombing. (This is because an observer can trace the blue-and-red path of the bomb straight back to your 'Copter, and if you're not moving when you launch it, this means you're dead meat. The reason you're moving in a straight line is because even though that gives your opponents information to potentially hammer you with, the quickest path through any danger zone is a straight line.) If you're executing a flyover, and you're not doing your best to stay outside of the game's draw distance, you're going to come within range of SAM Turrets or players with anti-aircraft hardware. Therefore, you're going to want to minimize the time spent in that range. For that, you need speed, and for that you need a Jetpack upgrade. That's fairly simple logic. However: things change subtly when you're performing a dive bombing instead.
Taking a Dive
The purpose of conducting such a bombing run as opposed to the safer flyover is to give yourself greater control over where your bombs land. You have to realize that you're sacrificing speed for precision, and that in doing so you're giving up a large part of one of the factors contributing to your survival. It's a rare dive bomber that doesn't come out of a dive with less than a scratch, and if that happens there's a good chance he didn't blow up what he wanted to blow up. However: you have three immensely powerful bombs at your disposal, and it'd be a shame if you didn't capitalize on every bit of damage they're capable of dealing. Here, again, you're performing a tradeoff between strengths and weaknesses. It all depends on what you're trying to accomplish.
Contrary to what you'd think, and to what history would have you believe, the 'dive' part of a dive bombing isn't executed directly over your target. This is because, unlike real-life aircraft, you won't be simply dropping inert bodies which will then inherit all of your downwards momentum. (That's why dive bombing is so effective in real life: done properly, it's like launching an air-to-ground missile, except you don't have to waste space in the missile fuselage on a propulsion system.) The bombs you drop have a motive force of their own, completely independent from yours, and you need to take this into account when preparing to dive.
Specifically, you need to start your dive as far as possible above the nearer end of the straight line I mentioned earlier. Then, freefall until you hit terminal velocity (the point at which you fall at a constant rate). From here, you can proceed to apply thrust in the direction of your target, though not too much or you'll come out of your dive. And here's where the Pop-up Bomb comes in: you see, during the freefall, you'll be motionless along two out of three axes. This is normally considered a Bad Thing. Taking the Pop-up Bomb allows you to reach terminal velocity much quicker than you could otherwise, which in turn minimizes the time you spend going straight down.
If you've done all this right, you'll reach the lowest point of your dive (which should preferably still be above the top of the building you're bombing, and certainly near the upper limit of the Millenium Bomb's splash damage area) with your target right in front of you and several lengths down; you'll be moving mostly horizontally now, and very slowly: as you gain momentum in your horizontal vector (the straight line we've been talking about) you lose it in your vertical one (the actual dive). Now is the time to take careful aim (the entire point of this venture) and let fly with as many Millenium Bombs as you deem necessary (usually all three, but if you're attacking a turret, two Bombs will be more than sufficient). Immediately after you tap the Throw Grenade key for the final time, lay on the Thrust key and the Nitro key: you did what you came to do, and now your goal is to get out of there before it kills you.
(It won't kill you outright, of course, even if the run goes completely pear-shaped. The worst that can happen is that you miscalculate your dive speed and the amount of lift you'll need to break the dive, and are still near the ground when the Bombs go off. If you're really unlucky, you'll have missed, as well, and the Bomb you missed with will explode just as you're falling through the cloud of what used to be your Gyrocopter, in which case you're about to quickly become a small green splatter. If you don't die shortly after your 'Copter is destroyed, you should be left with whatever health you had upon entering the 'Copter, minus around 30% of a full health heart. This is a moment for superb timing: hit the Use Syringe key to put you back at full health, launch a Flare to get rid of any missiles you may have attracted and take stock of your situation. You just landed in the middle of an enemy base; you have no transport out, no way of compensating any further health loss, and an absurdly powerful explosive device strapped to your back. You're going to die, there's no getting around it. So you'd better make the most of what you have and take as many of the enemy with you as you can. If you can steal a Smartie before the Bomb goes off, it'll die in the explosion and your enemy will be short a worker in addition to all the havoc you just caused.)
Assuming you made it out of the danger zone, take a moment to pat yourself on the back. You are now justified in considering your enemy pwnt, and yourself a pwnerer. Dive bombing is one of the most suicidally insane things you can attempt, especially against a competent team, and especially especially with a weighted-down 'Copter that steers like a cow. Even if you survived with a smoking, stuttering wreck of a Gyrocopter, you survived. Well done. Repeat as necessary and your enemy's base should be a pile of green-stained rubble in no time flat (pun intended). Incidentally, I'll repeat here what other, more experienced members have said about the order in which you should destroy enemy structures: start with the Shield Generator, simply because it makes your life that much easier. After that it's up to you. You might want to go for the Party House if you intend to knock out Turrets (or if you already have), or you may want to go for whichever Wall seems most prudent if you have large numbers of teammates approaching with heavy weaponry.
So. Your enemy's base is no longer functional, or at least rapidly approaching that point. What next?
If They Refuse to Come to be Pwnt, You Must Bring the Pwn to Them
Elsewhere on this forum, it's been said that Gyrocopters are not well-suited to dealing with enemy troops one-by-one. This is not necessarily the case. It just requires a different approach than may be immediately apparent. It is true that against a skilled player, hovering circles around your target and perforating him with Rotary Cannon bullets will cause him to lay the smackdown on you, reasonably quickly and painfully. This is because a player who uses this approach is not making the most of what the 'Copter has to offer. Quite the opposite, as a matter of fact. To elaborate, I'd like to draw attention to several aspects of game mechanics.
Firstly, it's possible to use items from within a 'Copter, though obviously not weapons, and also not backpack items (as explained earlier). Secondly, Millenium Bombs are launched using the Throw Grenade key. Obviously, carrying Grenades in a 'Copter is a waste of already severely limited inventory space, as trying to throw one when you're out of Bombs merely results in the disheartening click of an empty weapon. Therefore, aside from the two dead giveaways that no player with more than two braincells should ever leave base without (a Health Syringe and a full complement of Flares), that leaves only one option: grab some Mines.
Smart players will see where I'm going with this. With careful timing, it's possible to do much the same thing to an enemy player using Mines that we just did to enemy buildings using Millenium Bombs. Your aim will need to be good, and you'll need to take into account the terrain surrounding your target, because if you're not careful, your Mine (upon achieving a lock on the poor sap) will curve around, rocket back towards him, miss him entirely and go skimming off into the air by way of a nearby hill, and then exploding as its timer runs out. In fact, the best way to achieve such an assault is to conduct a sort of bombing run, with your enemy's expected trajectory convergent with a straight line drawn from your 'Copter.
As you near the point where the two merge, let fly with several Mines; they should activate somewhere in midair behind him and the game will do the rest. If he has any health remaining (I defy even a fleeing Reaper to survive five successive Mines, unless she has the presence of mind to Turbo out out harm's way), you have several options. Either drop a Bomb at where you think your enemy will be (the things are surprisingly accurate, and will always hit the ground at the spot your crosshairs are pointing when you launch them, even if they don't go off right away) or lay into them with the Rotary Cannon. The former approach is useful when there are several other enemies nearby, while the latter is especially good for picking off lone Reapers.
As an afterthought, the Mines are the principal reason I build a Mini-shop next to my Pad if I don't put the Pad in my base: you can jump out, restock (though you'll have to visit your main Gift Shop to receive a full stock of Flares: Mini-shops only give you up to three at once), jump back in, reload the 'Copter's ammo and be off again. And of course, everything here described works better when you have a buddy or two in Gyrocopters behind you, making life difficult for other enemies at the same time, or more difficult for the same enemy. When you're assaulting a base it's better to fly solo (no pun intended) and minimize casualties, but when you're out hunting for people to pwn, gang up on them because if they were you that's exactly what they'd do.
It's been said before and I'll say it again: if you don't have an extremely good reason to not do so (like one of the ones I've already discussed), stay low! Relative velocity and other lovely laws of physics will keep you moving far faster than anything your enemies can cope with. However: make absolutely sure you do not touch the ground. Even if you're not going fast enough to cause damage (as I'm sure you know, forcible contact with anything even remotely solid will damage or even destroy your 'Copter; while an exploding Gyrocopter looks flashy, the explosion does absolutely zero damage to whatever you hit, unless of course you hit another 'Copter), touching the ground immediately sets your forward momentum to zero, causing you to have to do all that work, gaining speed while keeping yourself from gaining altitude, all over again.
If you're going up against a SAM Turret, wait until the head stops swiveling and points straight at you (a foolproof indication that it's busy achieving a lock-on) and then make for the Turret as if you were intending to fly straight down the barrel. For some reason, Turrets cannot achieve a lock-on when you approach them this way; if I had to guess, I'd say they have limited depth perception capabilities and lock on using lateral motion. They can't parse an airborne object moving directly towards them: from their point of view, it's not moving (rather, it's growing in size), so they can't lock on to it, though they know it's airborne and therefore continue pointing their barrels at it. However: there are usually other Turrets around to support the one you're currently flying towards, and even if there aren't, some players may consider this tactic cheap. (But hey, who cares about being cheap? You have the aircraft, you make the whoosh noises.)
I've said it before, but it begs repetition: beware snipers, especially the camping ones. They are Really Bad News to a Gyrocopter pilot. Spot them early (or better yet, have a teammate spot them), and deal with them accordingly. Millenium Bombs are excellent for this purpose, but calling in an allied sniper with a Stealth Bush isn't a bad idea either.
Also, the mechanisms concerning ejecting from a 'Copter deserve some attention. When you hit the Drop Backpack Item key, you're immediately propelled upwards and backwards, relative to the direction the 'Copter was facing when you hit the key. (This also occurs when the 'Copter is destroyed and you're still inside.) The 'Copter then spirals towards the ground; the length of the radius of the spiral remains constant, and is directly proportional to the forwards momentum of the 'Copter in that selfsame moment. I guess the developers must have thought that the only reason you'd ever eject from a 'Copter in midair is if it were severely damaged, so anytime you eject before landing, it will begin spewing a thick, dark, and very visible plume of smoke (even if the machine is at full health). This is the main reason why I advise against doing this if at all possible: it gives away your position orders of magnitude more effectively than a lot of things. However, if you're within a reasonably short distance of the Pad your enemy doesn't know is there, you can eject from a great height (the impact will destroy the 'Copter) and your enemy might think that you're 'Copter-incapable until you can return to base. (He may even attempt to coordinate an attack on your base and neglect to bring proximity hardware, as he thinks he won't need it.) Imagine his surprise, then, as you rise from behind a nearby hill in a brand-spankin'-new 'Copter and proceed to lay waste to something valuable of his. Just make sure your Nitro is charged before trying something like that, because if it isn't, it won't recharge again until you hit the ground, and without Nitro you may not survive that impact.
Well, folks, I guess that's it. I hope this is helpful to you, or if not, then I hope that you at least enjoyed reading it. (You'd better- it took me all day to finish.) Go forth, get in your Gyrocopters, and PWN SOME NOOBS!