Accident Kingsland Texas - Sport Copter Vortex - N924WG - 9-9-21

All_In

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Do you realize that I answer 1000's of phone calls and emails spreading the lies you told ME regarding the safety of modern gyropalnes?
Now, what do I do? If true, I have to quit promoting these toys and back to FW is the only way to fly. This really sucks to learn after 10 years.
 

All_In

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We now all need to warn newbies that you believe they are dangerous and not real or useful aircraft but toys!
 

All_In

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I'm leaving now for El Mirage, but it is not as exciting as it was before I learned from the pro's they are still only toys to be flown around airports.
 

Doug Riley

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I've never said that gyros are safer than FW planes.

A CERTIFIED gyro (such as the McC J2) is probably roughly as safe as a C-172. Not significantly more, nor less. That's the level of safety that the usual private-pilot ADM aims for.

Experimental EAB gyros, and Experimental EAB FW's, are substantially less safe than certified aircraft of either type. The statistics bear this out in spades.

The problem isn't just that EAB's are often flown by rusty or low-time pilots, or that the workmanship on them isn't always professional-grade -- though those things are true, too. Often the design of EAB's is edgier than a certified aircraft (heck, people have built EAB replicas of the Gee Bee racer, the very definition of "widowmaker"). Just as important for gyros, the design work and testing of homebuilt aircraft is often "eyeball and go fly it."

Eyeball engineering is less dependable in gyros even than in, say, a tube-n-rag taildragger. That's because so many tube-n-rag planes were designed by pros, and certified, that you have a pretty good idea of where to use .035 x 3/4" and where to use 1" x .065, because you can just copy a Cub. In contrast, professional R&D in gyros stopped in the 1930's. No pro has tested and type-certified an offset-gimbal, tilt-head, teetering-rotor gyroplane. Ever. We are trusting Dr. Bensen on this setup, and he was not above "improving" upon the truth. He said, among other things, that gyro H-stabs should be of very limited power.

Even an EAB gyro that uses a certified engine employs it in a possibly different manner, respecting prop selection and duty cycle, than it was really designed for. I recall Lowell Farrand, one of the pioneers in the use of Continentals on gyros, stating that he ran his C-65 "a little fast -- up in the 90 hp part of the power curve." What??? Will the engine go to TBO as it would in a well-maintained certified plane? Dunno until it happens.

Yes, gyros in general are safer in engine-out situations, in that they can be flared to a stop at the bottom of a deadstick glide. A steep glide is easier to aim accurately then a shallow one -- partly offsetting the disadvantage that a steep glide limits your choice of landing spots.

Gyros also are safer than FW's with respect to departure stall-spin scenarios. A mush-in in a gyro in such a scenario will wreck the gyro, but the occupants have a reasonable chance of survival.

OTOH, any rotorcraft has a huge reserve of built-up kinetic energy in its rotor system. This energy is enough to cause mayhem in rotor strikes, rollovers and other accidents that might not be quite so deadly in a FW. There are 2-3 tons of centrifugal reaction, continually trying to throw one of your rotor blades during a simple one-G cruise, while a fixed wing just has to hold up the weight of the plane.

We should be honest with ourselves -- flying homebuilt gyros is an "adventure" sport. It can be made safe enough to satisfy many people attracted to such things. But it is not the safety equivalent of hanging in your Barcalounger watching TikToks.

Sorry to be long-winded, but we need to be clear-eyed about our choices. I gave a speech somewhat like this before taking on each new gyro student. Nobody ever said "Forget it, I'm outta here."
 

BEN S

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John, your kidding right?
I mean our gyros have to have "EXPERIMENTAL" plastered right on them conspicuously in case there was any doubt.
You know what I do for a living, I have lost (as in DEAD) more friends to this passion then I have in Bomb Disposal...no joke!
Doug is talking about "eyeball engineering" but aren't you yourself working on a "Tri Bull"? And exactly where in the Pitbull kit instructions did it say to just go ahead and slap on a front wheel instead of a tail dragger?
I told Dave whom care a lot about to work on it to his hearts content, but maybe let someone else take this project aloft to determine its flight characteristics....
I don't believe you honestly thought that gyros are as safe any other plane because your all about insurance....what does the market say about gyro insurance??
I ain't buying it.
Go, have fun at El Mirage, I sure wish I could be there but either accept the fact your doing something dangerous because it gives you a thrill, or as Doug says, your lazy boy awaits!
 

Vance

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I'm leaving now for El Mirage, but it is not as exciting as it was before I learned from the pro's they are still only toys to be flown around airports.
Please don't make up things I haven't said.

The world is not black and white John.

There is likely a reason insurance for a 172 is so much less expensive than insurance for a modern gyroplane.

To fly a gyroplane I accept the risks and work to mitigate the risks.

I don't pretend the risks don't exist.

In 600 hours flying a Rotax 914 I have had three inflight engine outs and seven problems.

It is only luck that I haven't rolled one up.

I accept that risk and try not to spend much time over places I can't land.

I never fly direct to anywhere so if I have an engine out landing I don't have to walk far for help.

You are a low time pilot.

You will be flying a freshly built EAB from a company with a history of issues.

You are flying a new engine design from a company with a history of development issues when they bring out a new model.

If you have an accident people will blame the gyroplane and that will hurt use all.

That is why I have given you so much free instruction.

I care about you and I care about the future of gyroplanes.

I am ar the KBFFI now and I look forward to visiting with you John.
 

DavePA11

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Hi All_In - I'll take your toy when you are done with it. :) I feel much safer flying a gyro with rotax 912/914/915 over fw any day.
 

chrisk

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Some gyroplanes are safer than others. I'll gladly take a certified gyro ( Primary category or BCAR-T) over a Benson. The same is true with airplanes. Some are safer than others. A 172 is a pussy cat of an airplane. A Lancair 4P is a beast where insurance is usually difficult, if not impossible, to obtain.

As for comparing the safety of gyroplanes to airplanes. I suspect a BCAR-T gyroplane is roughly in the same safety league as a Cessna 172, if flown in a similar flight envelope. i.e. take off from a 4000+ foot paved runway, climb to 2500+ feet AGL, head directly to your destination, then land on a 4000+ foot paved runway. --Part of the problem with rotor craft safety is how they are flown. One only needs to read about the Kobe Bryant accident to understand ADM is the problem. Scud running and low altitude flight are common in rotor craft, but much less so in fixed wing aircraft.
 

Kevin_Richey

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Lacking from the story of when Ken Brock flew his gyro over to Catalina Island is that he had a chase motorboat along on his flight. KB added "insurance" for a possible water landing! That & he flew from the shortest possible distance between the mainland & C.I.
 
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Jazzenjohn

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I've designed, built, and flown 4 different ultralight gyros. Amassing parts for a 2 place now.
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I Tend to believe that experimental gyros, flown with exactly the same mission profile, would compare reasonably well to most experimental fixed wings. Vanishingly few airplane pilots would fly the way I, and many other gyro pilots, fly their gyros. Very few gyro pilots i know would be content to restrict themselves to flying like most fixed wing pilots fly.
 

Brian Jackson

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I recall Lowell Farrand, one of the pioneers in the use of Continentals on gyros, stating that he ran his C-65 "a little fast -- up in the 90 hp part of the power curve."
Great post, Doug. One name caught my eye... Lowell Farrand is a personal friend. He was instrumental during my MiniMax build and I frequented his airstrip in Ligonier, Indiana when I was a Midwesterner. I talked with him on the phone 2~3 years ago. He sent me a copy of his book (his memoirs). Anyway, just wanted to toss that out there.

Small world but I wouldn't want to paint it. (Steven Wright)
 

All_In

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Vance and I had a great discussion.
I explain to Vance I'm an accountant so yes everything in my world is black and white = everything is in balance to the penny.
And now adding to that list = as is MATH my first language and physics all black and white.

I Will let him post how he told me people can migrate his concerns.

Results of Doug and Vance’s post
(Without Vance chat what did others now think).

2 new MODERN gyro owners/pilots at El Mirage I did not know until I introduced myself to meet them, told me after reading this thread they are now scared of their gyro.

And when I walk up to Vance to say goodbye, 2 hours ago, he said I only pick on you, because I like you and want you to learn.

I said yes but you are scaring the heck out of me.
And without missing a beat a person I did not know that was talking to Vance when I interrupted said.

“Me too, I do not know if I want to learn to fly them anymore.” Ask Vance if that is not 100% the truth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That makes 3, no 4 counting me and I have no fear. But my fear today is bringing people into what two of my heroes believe are so much more dangerous than FW with more engines out of modern gyroplanes.

So Dave, keeping my gyros sorry bro:) = substitute fear with learning, training, over practicing until able to compete in the top 10 of everything I do my entire life.

I’m going to master flying these but not sure what I’m going to be able to honestly share with the public.
Most of them will not put in the training, learning, and practice to make it in the top 10 to be able to fly these dangerous toys like a FW.
 
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All_In

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PS:
According to all 5 insurance companies, I've talked too about the group insurance program:
The reason my Piper Archer only costs me $600 a year is there are 250,000 other certified aircraft all paying insurance in the same insurance POOL.

It's simple math. 250,000 x even $600 = $150,000,000. Many paid much more example = a jet so they have $500,000,000 maybe in reality to pay out before they lose money in any one year.

Many of these companies only have 10 to 50 gyros in their pools.
When 1/2 the US Cavalon fleet tipped over they lost $500K that year because so few buy comprehensive insurance for gyros.
The risk evaluation is based on pilot hours, not the gyro's being dangerous in themselves.

Please, Doug and Vance, do not tell the insurance Companies your expert opinions or you will scare the crap out of them too!
I believe Vance does not buy comprehensive insurance (it is so expensive I do not blame him) and even though untrustworthy he is willing to take that chance.
 
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All_In

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Not sure over 10,000+ logged FW, 260+ ultralights, sailplane, hang-gliders
For every landing where our blades cause more damage.
The insurance company will raise you 10 times in FW ground loops, stalls in landings, and turns with more deaths not counting that they carry more than two souls on board.
 

Martin W.

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We must remember that early Mac powered gyro's and pilots were known as .... "those crazy guys"

During the following years safety improved a bit
After the RAF era safety improved a lot more.
But we mislead ourselves if we pretend we are not still vulnerable .

The logging industry is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world but we never hear them debating what model of chainsaws will ... "keep them safe"

Our debates are often like arguing about chainsaws.

Much better to have a respectable fear of falling logs and falling machines and try to avoid the traps.

.
 

DavePA11

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Did half of the Cavalons really tip over? Which gyro has the best safety record so far? Open tandems like the AR-1?
 

All_In

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OK, enough of the doom and gloom from now on just explain how to mitigate your concerns = just solutions.
My solution started over a year ago, it is PRA's group insurance program.
Of course, it is a yearly checkout for the pilot. 1st with a simulator and then for real.

But if you remember I promised the insurance company we need also inspect the gyros by a manufacture's rep, or our best builder for that model making sure it is built like a certified aircraft and not an amateur. (I added certified aircraft because of this thread, think I used by expert builder)
This is how I hope to migrate the engine out concerns you have about gyros make them equal in that at least to certified aircraft!

I'm mitigating that on the ARGON by having Dr. Rual Salazar who has built several, is a factory rep, is a CFI, and was the test pilot for them, fly out and inspect our work, test fly her, make final adjustments and then check both Henry Bolger and me out in her. I posted this too. I'm not as dumb as you think I am.
 
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All_In

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Did half of the Cavalons really tip over? Which gyro has the best safety record so far? Open tandems like the AR-1?
Only the very few in the US at the time. Not the rest of the world. What does that tell you?
Examples:
1) It was pilots that got sign-off and could fly her. But then did not during late fall and winter and should have gone back for a checkout ride. Rusty.
2) They were not training enough for the heaver more complex gyroplane and not stressing SOFT FIELD LANDINGS.

The CFI's must-have correct the problem because they are not tipping over today in the same numbers. Cannot remember when one did recently and I believe they are the same design.
I have no problems flying the Cavalon's. You just hold the nose up until she falls down by herself.

It used to be Magni, until this year. They just had several.

it's almost always a lack of training, learning, and practice or a large lapses in time between flights, not the make or model.
 

All_In

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My only complaint about the 915 Cavalon is I have the right rudder to the STOP with full power.
I get concerned when I have no more rudder. The 914 does not do that!
To much experience in FW crosswind landing and you're drifting off the runway when you hit full rudder it's GO AROUND TIME.
AND yes busted I'm landing at 10 or 15 knots over the limit in Piper Archer or Warriors in gusting winds for that to happen. ( with 4K + hours in them its skill to nail center line landings above limits not luck)
 
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