Autogyro: An autogyro, sometimes called a gyrocopter, is a flying machine that is neither an airplane nor a helicopter, although it is a rotorcraft. It is driven through the air by a propeller, like a plane, but has a passive rotor, more like a helicopter. The rotor is not connected to a power source, but twirls freely in the wind. To make an autogyro take off, the pilot adds power until the propeller pulls (or pushes) the machine into motion, and as it gains airspeed, the rotor begins to turn. When it is providing enough lift, the aircraft takes to the skies. The take-off roll is usually very short, so autogyros are usually classed as STOL, Short Take-Off or Landing.
Tech Level: First flown in 1923 (just twenty years after the Wright Brothers) the main technological hurdle is a small engine, so I class the autogyro as Dieselpunk. In the seventies, ads for DIY kits appeared in magazines like Popular Mechanics.
Appeared In: In speculative fiction, you may remember autogyros from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, or the James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice. Also Doc Savage, Doctor Who and many others.
For Your Plot: The autogyro flies low and slow, so it’s good for reconnaissance or search. Long trips, not so much. Great potential for your hero to have a non-fatal accident due to engine failure, birdstrike or controlled flight into terrain. (Hit a tree, dude.) An autogyro is small enough to store in a garage until after the apocalypse.