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Chris Lord October 31, 2018

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  • Chris Lord October 31, 2018

    Rest in Peace.

    Respectfully wondering what happened.

    There is a donation link for his surviving wife and young children here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/245623942780289/
    GT Mills
    Peachstate Rotorcraft Club

    Mohawk Aero Corporation
    PO Box 30133
    Savannah, GA 31410
    www.MohawkAeroCraft.com info@MohawkAeroCraft.com

  • #2
    Here is what I've posted in another thread, but it makes sense to have it here, primarily.
    Below are my successive posts.


    ______
    Preliminary consensus so far is that it was probably a mechanical issue, given Chris's piloting experience and the CTAF distress call just minutes after take-off

    Witnesses said the aircraft was in some kind of distress before it clipped a power line then crashed into a mobile home in the Sebring Falls Retirement Subdivision.
    https://www.wfla.com/news/local-news...ing/1562464299



    One witness who posted on FB mentioned something that points to a control system failure:
    I saw it and wondered what it was doing kept going around and around so sad

    In the event of pitch/roll control failure (e.g., the push/pull cables) can the Cavalon trim system function as back-up control?
    I haven't experience in that type, hence my question.




    ______
    The audio I listened to had two Mayday calls separated by about 12 seconds, during which was power modulation.
    This portion was present in the Channel 10 news link that Zzorse posted above.

    After the second
    "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!" Lord says "Gyro--" and then a portion of the transmission was apparently redacted (probably the tail #),

    After that redaction, at 12 seconds Lord seemed to say "...back, lean back! " and then about 1 second of redaction, followed by a grunting expletive at 17 seconds.

    Then there is about 3 seconds of apparently more redaction, followed by about 2 seconds of indistinguishable voice which did not sound to me like Chris.

    Then, about 4 seconds of silence followed by the tower's
    "Where was that gyro that was reporting, uh, Mayday? "


    ______
    Since the engine was heard in the audio, and also by local witnesses, that leaves a control or rotor system failure.

    Had it been a control system failure (e.g., push/pull cables) a functioning pitch trim should have been able to compensate.

    The nosedive at 200 AGL makes me wonder if N198LT didn't experience runaway nose-down pitch.

    For example (and this I'm only speculating out loud here), if the
    "Pneumatic cylinder brake/trim" somehow malfunctioned and went to "Brake" in flight,
    the rotorhead would have been pitched forward, while simultaneously engaging the ring gear brake (decaying rotor RPM).

    It seems unlikely that stick forces even by both occupants could have overcome such, but others here may have a better opinion on that.
    This is only one scenario, and something else could have been the cause.

    The impact and fire damage to the parts will make investigation very difficult, and I wouldn't expect any imminent conclusions by the NTSB.

    Meanwhile, we must learn what lessons and caveats we can and bear on.

    If there is some way to help the Lord and Brugger families through a donation fund, please post the link/details in this thread.


    _______
    From GoogleMaps I've pinpointed the exact mobile home of the crash site.
    Only 100 yds away was a clearing in the trailer park, and Lake Jackson was just 300 yds to the east.
    This convinces me that the Cavalon completely lost directional control, else Chris could have reached such nearby unpopulated ground.

    A power pole just east of the mobile home was hit, which seems to suggest a somewhat western trajectory.

    One witness who lives 1.25 miles south reported seeing the gyro
    "kept going around and around".
    That, in conjunction with a closer witness only a half mile away on Hwy. 27 who described a "nosedive from about 200 feet "
    seems to portray something looking like a graveyard spiral and then fast vertical fall.

    The cockpit audio clearly indicates that they were already involuntarily nosed over for much of the Mayday call.

    Something mechanical failed catastrophically up there, and apparently at somewhere around 1000-1500' AGL given the duration of the emergency.

    I hope that the NTSB will very carefully examine all the control system parts, especially the push/pull cables and the pneumatic trim cylinders.

    Regards,
    Kolibri
    PP - ASEL complex (Piper 180, C206, RV-7A), SP - Gyro (Calidus, RAF, SC2), soloed in gliders; checkride soon

    Wasn't happy with my RAF's pitch instability, so I installed a Boyer H-Stab to my great satisfaction!

    "
    When an honest but mistaken man learns of his error, he either ceases to be mistaken -- or he ceases to be honest."

    Comment


    • #3
      The eyewitness who reported seeing N198LT "kept going around and around" has elaborated on that. I think it provides a valuable clue into what Chris was dealing with:

      it was going around one area and I thought that it looked like it was going to land but then seemed to go back up then go back down
      I was driving so I did not watch it the entire time
      This reads to me like pitch excursions from attempting to remain level with power. (In his Mayday call the engine can clearly be heard to rev up and down.)

      I'm wondering if the pitch push-pull cable somehow failed (either broke or seized), or if there was a failure of the control mixer/yoke in the cockpit.
      A cable bracket could have also broken.
      If so, then power modulation in conjunction with pneumatic trim inputs (which could be somewhat mutually out of phase) may explain the gyro's behavior of down-up-down.

      From this site is a diagram of a typical push-pull cable:




      Regards,
      Kolibri
      Attached Files
      PP - ASEL complex (Piper 180, C206, RV-7A), SP - Gyro (Calidus, RAF, SC2), soloed in gliders; checkride soon

      Wasn't happy with my RAF's pitch instability, so I installed a Boyer H-Stab to my great satisfaction!

      "
      When an honest but mistaken man learns of his error, he either ceases to be mistaken -- or he ceases to be honest."

      Comment


      • #4
        On various Facebook pages, PRA's John Rountree has posted the below:

        DANGER! PRA SAFETY INSPECTION WARNING and NOTICE.

        All gyro's owners using PUSH-PULL CABLES to CONTROL the CYCLIC.
        YOU NEED to INSPECT and or REPLACE them much more often.
        When one fails, you have no control of the gyro at all. It will go in one direction and the one pitch attitude it is stuck in.
        You will be helpless if one breaks or kinks. No control at all other than throttle which only speeds your decent if you're pitched nose down.

        This is what we have learned recently and even though it is hearsay until the final report
        However we know enough to warn people so they will not kill themselves until the final report is issued and confirms what the evidence shows that we suspect.
        This warning would apply to the newer models of the AutoGyro Calidus and Cavalon.
        The MTOsport uses control push tubes and a gimbal arm on the torque tube.

        I've never believed that a push-pull cable should be used for primary control.
        They cannot be internally inspected during preflight.


        ____
        Regarding Chris Lord's N198LT, it seems confirmed from multiple sources that it had previously been rolled over,
        and repaired by AutoGyro USA in Maryland. The obvious question is whether some control system parts were not prudently replaced.

        Furthermore, rumor has it that after the repair N198LT still had a bad rotor shake, and that Chris was trying to reduce it.
        It is unknown if he had succeeded doing so.

        Anybody flying a rollover refurbished AutoGyro may want to preemptively replace their pitch-pull cables.

        Regards,
        Kolibri


        PP - ASEL complex (Piper 180, C206, RV-7A), SP - Gyro (Calidus, RAF, SC2), soloed in gliders; checkride soon

        Wasn't happy with my RAF's pitch instability, so I installed a Boyer H-Stab to my great satisfaction!

        "
        When an honest but mistaken man learns of his error, he either ceases to be mistaken -- or he ceases to be honest."

        Comment


        • #5
          NTSB Preliminary Report on N198LT:

          On October 30, 2018, about 1448 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Auto-Gyro Cavalon gyrocopter, N198LT, was destroyed during collision with a power pole, wires, terrain, a residence and a post-crash fire following a forced landing in Sebring, Florida. The commercial pilot and the pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight which departed Sebring Regional Airport (SEF) about 1440 and was destined for Manatee Airport (48X), Palmetto, Florida. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

          The pilot-rated passenger had dropped his gyroplane at a repair station on SEF, and the purpose of the flight was to return him to 48X. Representatives of Auto-Gyro, the airport manager at SEF, and the repair station stated the pilot had flown the accident gyroplane earlier in day for approximately 2 hours, serviced it fully with fuel, and departed with the passenger.

          Preliminary radar information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed the radar target identified as the accident gyroplane was acquired at 500 feet and its track depicted a climb to about 1,000 feet where it assumed a cruise profile on an approximate on-course heading (280) for 48X. The radar track traversed the southern border of Lake Jackson, Sebring, Florida. About 1446, the radar data depicted a descent profile that began about 1,000 feet over the southwestern shore of the lake. The descent followed the curve of the shoreline to the northwest, and the radar target disappeared at 900 feet and 90 knots groundspeed, about 4 tenths of a mile southeast of the accident site.

          In an interview and a written statement, a witness stated he was driving southbound on the highway that paralleled the shoreline of the lake at the time of the accident. He said the gyrocopter was travelling northwest bound, about 300 feet above ground level "with very little airspeed" and appeared to be turning to the east. The gyrocopter then "entered an autorotation" then, when it reached " about 150 feet the nose of the aircraft dropped immediately turning toward [the] east then back toward the north." The gyrocopter descended from view before a large fireball was seen.

          The Sebring Regional Airport was not tower controlled, but a commercial website monitored and recorded the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF). At 1448, a MAYDAY call was recorded. Over the next 18 seconds, with some interruptions, the gyrocopter's registration number [partial] and a second mayday call were transmitted before the sounds of impact were heard. During the audible portions of the transmissions, sounds consistent with an engine increasing and decreasing in rpm were heard.

          The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for rotorcraft-gyroplane. He held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane. His FAA 2nd class medical certificate was issued August 25, 2017. A review of the pilot's FAA Examiner Designation and Qualification Record revealed he had accrued 4,010 total hours of flight experience, 2,715 hours of which were in "rotortype" aircraft.

          According to FAA records, the gyrocopter was manufactured in 2017. Airframe logbooks were not recovered, but photographs of maintenance entries revealed the most recent condition inspection was completed October 4, 2018 at 16.6 total aircraft hours.

          At 1515, the weather recorded at SEF included clear skies, 10 miles visibility, and winds from 030 degrees at 6 knots. The temperature was 28C, and the dew point was 13C. The altimeter setting was 30.07 inches of mercury.

          The wreckage was examined at the site, and all major components could not be accounted for at the scene. The damage at the scene included powerlines, a power pole, and residence. The power pole was replaced, and the powerlines were repaired prior to examination. Photographs of the scene revealed the pole was fractured into 3 sections, and powerlines were severed and entangled with the wreckage. The residence was consumed by the post-crash fire.

          The wreckage path was oriented about 290 and about 39 feet long. The initial impact crater was about 25 feet beyond the power pole, which appeared to be the initial impact point. Identifiable components of the gyrocopter included the rotor system, the engine, and the main landing gear crosstube. The wreckage path ended at the engine where it was entangled with the residence. Landing gear wheels and tires could be seen scattered outside the residence. The remainder of the gyrocopter was consumed in the post-crash fire.

          The rotor system was found between the impact crater and the residence still attached to the pylon structure. It was largely intact and displayed signatures consistent with impact and heat exposure. Spiral striations consistent with wire contact and signatures consistent with electrical arcing were also visible on the rotor blades. The rotor blades were secure in their grips, and the pitch and roll controls, and pre-rotator drive were all attached to the head.

          The engine was entangled and partially buried in burned debris. All external accessories were destroyed by fire. The flywheel was melted, and the remaining slag made rotation of the crankshaft impossible. The propeller hub remained attached, and the composite blades appeared to be uniformly severed at their roots prior to fire exposure.

          The engine cylinder heads were removed, and the pistons were removed from their connecting rods to obtain visual access to the crankshaft and connecting rods. The signatures observed were consistent with normal wear and lubrication.

          ___________
          Below are my excerpts and comments:


          Representatives of Auto-Gyro, the airport manager at SEF, and the repair station stated the pilot had flown the accident gyroplane earlier in day for approximately 2 hours, serviced it fully with fuel, and departed with the passenger.
          Since AutoGyro themselves knew of the flight (which strikes me a a bit odd), was this a post-maintenance test regarding its rumored bad rotor shake?


          About 1446, the radar data depicted a descent profile that began about 1,000 feet over the southwestern shore of the lake. The descent followed the curve of the shoreline to the northwest, and the radar target disappeared at 900 feet and 90 knots groundspeed, about 4 tenths of a mile southeast of the accident site.

          In an interview and a written statement, a witness stated he was driving southbound on the highway that paralleled the shoreline of the lake at the time of the accident. He said the gyrocopter was travelling northwest bound, about 300 feet above ground level "with very little airspeed" and appeared to be turning to the east. The gyrocopter then "entered an autorotation" then, when it reached " about 150 feet the nose of the aircraft dropped immediately turning toward [the] east then back toward the north."

          The Sebring Regional Airport was not tower controlled, but a commercial website monitored and recorded the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF). At 1448, a MAYDAY call was recorded. Over the next 18 seconds, with some interruptions, the gyrocopter's registration number [partial] and a second mayday call were transmitted before the sounds of impact were heard. During the audible portions of the transmissions, sounds consistent with an engine increasing and decreasing in rpm were heard.
          It's been posted on FB that Chris's pre-accident goundspeed was 110mph according to SPOT data. This was presumably over Lake Jackson or its shoreline.
          Radar data of 90kts (103.5mph) and a corresponding descent seems to indicate that the mechanical trouble began within about 2 minutes and 2,100' from the crash site.
          The failure seems to me to have begun without great alarm (for the first minute or so), and then quickly gotten progressively worse.


          The witness's phrase "entered an autorotation" seems ambiguous to me.
          While a gyro pilot might say such to describe an engine-out vertical descent, a nonaviation witness may be attempting to describe the gyro spinning about its vertical axis.
          The witness's
          "turning toward [the] east then back toward the north" may be more describing use of the rudder (vs. roll).


          The rotor blades were secure in their grips, and the pitch and roll controls, and pre-rotator drive were all attached to the head.
          If pitch and/or roll cable had failed, then evidently it was below the rotorhead.


          The propeller hub remained attached, and the composite blades appeared to be uniformly severed at their roots prior to fire exposure.
          This seems to indicate a pre-crash prop/rotor strike (i.e., rotor flap in those last moments).



          _____________
          Airframe logbooks were not recovered, but photographs of maintenance entries revealed the most recent condition inspection
          was completed October 4, 2018 at 16.6 total aircraft hours.
          This is odd, because I've seen an N198LT For Sale ad claiming "40 Hours Phase One Fly Off Complete".
          The remaining 23.4 hours could have been flown off after 4 October, but something seems off to me here.

          Finally, on FB a gyro CFI posted:

          ...this accident aircraft I understand was an accident re-build and was known to be a pig to fly & called a "death-trap"
          by many who spent a few minutes in it - landed & vowed ...never to fly it again! ....YES ...that IS hearsay! ..... but from more than one source!
          This jives what I've also been hearing.
          Certain people out there in Florida know the local reputation of N198LT.
          This issue needs to be aired out, along with detailed repair records of that Cavalon.

          I.e., was it flying on older parts which may have been damaged in the rollover yet not replaced?
          The rumored bad rotor shake seems connected.

          Regards,
          Kolibri
          PP - ASEL complex (Piper 180, C206, RV-7A), SP - Gyro (Calidus, RAF, SC2), soloed in gliders; checkride soon

          Wasn't happy with my RAF's pitch instability, so I installed a Boyer H-Stab to my great satisfaction!

          "
          When an honest but mistaken man learns of his error, he either ceases to be mistaken -- or he ceases to be honest."

          Comment


          • #6
            Here is the estimated flight path from the airport to the crash site about 8nm away.
            Where the "d" is in "United" is approximately where the trouble apparently began:


            Click image for larger version  Name:	2003 Caribbean Rd. E., Sebring, FL 33870.png Views:	1 Size:	864.3 KB ID:	1140111




            And this is the crash site. Being so close to clearings and the lake is strong evidence that Chris had little/no directional control at the end.

            Click image for larger version  Name:	20181030 Chris Lord crash in Sebring Falls Mobile Home Park-wide view-2.png Views:	1 Size:	96.4 KB ID:	1140110


            Click image for larger version

Name:	N198LT crash site.png
Views:	1
Size:	801.4 KB
ID:	1140112
            PP - ASEL complex (Piper 180, C206, RV-7A), SP - Gyro (Calidus, RAF, SC2), soloed in gliders; checkride soon

            Wasn't happy with my RAF's pitch instability, so I installed a Boyer H-Stab to my great satisfaction!

            "
            When an honest but mistaken man learns of his error, he either ceases to be mistaken -- or he ceases to be honest."

            Comment

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