AR-1 N923DJ Texas 15-12-18

Steve_UK

Active Member
The FAA ASIAS states AR-1

GYROCOPTER LANDED HARD STRIKING PROP AND DAMAGING ROTOR

at Anahuac, injures nil damage substantial
 

mark treidel

Senior Member
Does anybody have any more information regarding this incident? Would like to know if this was 'mechanically' related.
 

fara

AR-1 gyro manufacturer
I talked to the pilot. In fact he called me. There was no mechanical issue whatsoever. It was simple pilot error brought on by sudden unexpected wind shear and sink and gyro ran out f energy high off the runway and sunk down hard. The pilot walked away without any injury. The damage is to the mast, rotors, prop and tail.
 

GyrOZprey

Aussie in Kansas.
I was SO glad to talk to Tony when he returned my call to discuss this unfortunate splat! having seen the sad pictures of his destroyed gyro ...It is an impressive testament to the sound design & construction of the AR1 ...as to HOW WELL the protective gyro"roll-cage" ...of mast & main-gear held up to keep Tony safe & uninjured! The accident was on the grass runway @ Anahuac ...which would have contributed to a more absorbent ground-contact! Tony attributes the 2 piece mast ( fold-down design) as a crumple-zone to absorbing much of the rotor energy on contact!
Kudos to Abid & Silverlight for their solid design that has allowed 2 pilots now to walk away with minor injuries from unfortunate ...near-ground weather/wind triggered loss-of-control!

I appreciate Tony being so open... correctly & responsibly reporting to FAA & sharing pictures ...we all know MANY incidents /accidents like this are shamefully hidden & quickly swept-under-the-rug.... thus denying the pilot community at large the essential LEARNING opportunities an possible avoidance of repeat mistakes!

Many of us enjoy flying our machines low & aggressively ...enjoying the awesome capabilities of our gyroplanes .... we may getaway with it 1000 times ...then that errant wind anomaly hits & NAILS us!

I know of 2 other wind shear /microburst events ( TAG in China & Cavalon @ Spanish Fork) ...where the outcomes were good with a successful go-around & a safe but scary landing with some minor damage) ...

Respect the AIR ..the fluid medium we fly in ...and be aware of "Murph" ...always lurking ready to strike!

Merry Christmas to all my gyro friends & blessed year in 2019 ...Blue skys & many safe flights!
 

AirCommandPilot

Just a fledgeling
Along the grass runway here in Anahuac, there is a large patch of tall trees. With the wind direction coming from the West that day, there very well could have been some rotor coming off of the trees.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
I hope you will not be discouraged by this mishap Tony and I am glad you were not injured.

The AR1 is so forgiving I can imagine getting lulled into being complacent during the approach to land.

Every landing is a test of all my skills and I work to stay focused.

I am always set to go around if things aren't working out.

I have found if I am high without enough indicated airspeed a bust of power will cushion the descent and touch down.

Some gyroplanes will pitch down and yaw left when full power is added at low speeds. The AR1 is not one of them.

The AR1 is also very forgiving of misalignment with the direction of travel on touchdown with its soft linked nose wheel.

I wasn't there and I don't know what happened so please understand I am not suggesting it would not have happened to me given the same circumstances.

I am suggesting that it is important to not become complacent during the approach to land.
 

DavePA11

Active Member
The AR-1 has metal fuel tanks which in my opinion are much safer than the plastic tanks which more easily allow fuel to spray out of the rubber grommets or splitting causing fires. I have seen another Apollo accident with similar design that did not result in a fireball like many of the other gyro accidents.
 

chrisk

Gyroplane CFI
I'm so glad Tony is ok. I don't recall the conditions on that day, but strong winds can do odd things.
 

Kolibri

FW and Gyros
Glad he walked away from this.

It was simple pilot error brought on by sudden unexpected wind shear and sink and gyro ran out f energy high off the runway and sunk down hard.
fara, was he practicing something like a vertical descent?


I have found if I am high without enough indicated airspeed a bust of power will cushion the descent and touch down.
Yes, Vance, that will often work.
However, over the runway for landing, is there really any excuse to be caught
"high without enough indicated airspeed"?

In my opinion, during wind shear conditions a safer landing technique to purposefully/quickly get low over the deck, and then bleed off any excessive AS from there.
That way, if wind shear is experienced, it results merely in a timing-involuntary landing.

Regards,
Kolibri
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Common reasons to not have enough indicated airspeed before running out of altitude is to balloon up during the round out or an encounter with wind shear.

In my opinion to get low over the runway at my approach to land speed and then bleed off any excessive AS from there is poor piloting technique and leads to touch down at high ground speed when it does not work out because of unanticipated wind shear. There have been more than a few RAF tip overs from this very thing.

In my opinion one of the many reasons for the round out is to get a feel for how the gyroplane responds to current conditions.

In my opinion truncating the round out in gusting conditions is counterproductive.
 

Kolibri

FW and Gyros
Common reasons to not have enough indicated airspeed before running out of altitude is to balloon up during the round out or an encounter with wind shear.
Sure, but probably more common is sloppy piloting.

In my opinion to get low over the runway at my approach to land speed and then bleed off any excessive AS from there is poor piloting technique and leads to touch down at high ground speed when it does not work out because of unanticipated wind shear.
I did not advocate a riskily high ground speed while being low over the runway.
I've more time in RAFs than you do, and I know the dangers of touching down too hot.


In my opinion truncating the round out in gusting conditions is counterproductive.
I'll agree to disagree . . .
 

loftus

Active Member
In FW it's generally taught to increase approach speed by half the speed of any gusts. Probably not a bad rule of thumb in gyros as well. Not sure of course if this would have made any difference in this case.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Many gyroplanes don't touch down well at speed so adding to my approach speed in gusting conditions may not be the best practice when I am flying one of them.

I don't know how I would use the excess airspeed to my advantage.

For me the purpose of the round out in a gyroplane is to have options when the wind changes and get a feel for the response of the aircraft under those conditions.

In The Predator I begin my round out at fifty knots and fifteen to twenty feet above the ground looking all the way down the runway, with increasing back pressure on the cyclic and try to flare at less than five knots of indicated air speed at less than two feet above the ground. I generally have my eyes focused as far out as I can see and do not monitor my instruments during the round out.

The practical test standards for Sport Pilot, Gyroplane is plus or minus five knots on the approach to land and minus nothing, plus 200 feet for touch down.

Based on the National Transportation Safety Board reports for the last several years landing accidents account for almost a third of all gyroplane accidents reported to the NTSB.

I don't know enough about the N923DJ hard landing to speculate about what might have been done to avoid it.

It is always troubling when an experienced pilot comes to grief.
 

loftus

Active Member
Unfortunately practical test standards are of little value in challenging conditions like these and I think gyro pilots ought to be trained as to how to manage these at the spur of the moment, rather than being too concerned about what Practical Test Standards require. The main advantage to adding a little airspeed during gusty conditions is simply to build in a safety factor to help prevent incidents such as this one. I am speculating of course, but it would appear that in this case, considering the extent of the damage that the aircraft sustained, the aircraft was significantly higher above the runway than one would normally be considering the roundout phase.
In a gyro I was taught to use the roundout not only to pitch the aircraft so that the touchdown is on the mains only, but also to utilize the roundout as a form of brake for the aircraft. So that the roundout pitch just before and at the moment of touchdown can be increased to create additional braking effect. I am not recommending an increased landing speed, only an increased approach speed prior to initiating the roundout. I suspect that many of the accidents on landing were due to excess speed AND a tricycle flat landing with the nose wheel on the ground and excess speed.
All this again speaks to teaching balancing on the mains concepts, and the understanding that a flatter landing will result in more likelihood of excessive ground speed. So I would still advocate slightly higher approach speed during gusty conditions, to decrease the risk of drop ins from up high during approach, and then a more nuanced adjustment of pitch as necessary during the roundout and on touchdown. Using rotor pitch as a brake to control aircraft forward speed just before and during touchdown is a useful skill. Again I have no idea if this all applies in this particularly accident, but nevertheless it's the approach I would take. Better to have a slightly harder than normal touchdown, rather than dropping in from up high.Of course as you say, a go around always has to be a considered option.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
As always Jeffery; a well thought out and well written response.

I certainly agree with landing on the mains and using the rotor to slow the aircraft.

The practical test standards are a way to quantify the skill of a pilot and I mentioned them because the approach to land is the only time the airspeed is plus or minus five knots. Someone felt airspeed on approach was important.
 

Tyger

Active Member
fara;n1140941 said:
It was simple pilot error brought on by sudden unexpected wind shear and sink and gyro ran out f energy high off the runway and sunk down hard.
I am trying to understand this better... by "wind shear and sink" are we talking about an unexpected downdraft? If so, how does that leave one high and slow above the runway?
 

thomasant

Member
Thanks to all my well wishers regarding this accident.

Here's the report that I submitted to the FAA verbatim:

While practicing autorotations on the grass runway 35 at Chambers County (T00), during the third landing, I experienced a sudden loss of lift during the flare due to a possible strong wind shear, resulting in a vertical drop of about four feet. I immediately attempted recovery with full power, but was unable to prevent a hard landing during the go-round which caused the propeller to strike the bottom keel. The aircraft bounced to the left initially, the rotors impacted the ground, and the detachable mast sheared at the junction and twisted off, held in place with the control rods. The aircraft came to rest on the mast junction on its right side, and I evacuated the aircraft immediately and called for help.

Major damage caused was to the three propeller blades which sheared at the hub, mast sheared/bent at the detachable junction, and both rotor blades gouged and bent.



It is interesting to note how someone has posted that the gyro ran out of energy high off the runway. This is pure speculation, and that is the reason I am not seen on this forum anymore. What does one tell the pilot that crashes during a microburst, caught on the wrong side of the shear, pilot error????



As you may note in my report, the sink was quite sudden and unexpected and full power was applied, but it did not prevent the hard touch down.

I have even experienced unexpected tail winds occasionally at Anahuac when the wind direction changes suddenly. For those that feel this cannot happen, please go through some of the old threads and posts by Birdy, where he explains some interesting and unexpected phenomena regarding wind shear at low altitudes.

I hope this answers the queries, and I am thankful and blessed to have walked away from this one. Moral of the story is that one should always be prepared for the unexpected.

As an instructor, what I teach students is that it is not so much as the situation itself, but how one deals with a situation. In this situation, all that I could do was open full power to try and arrest the sink. Sometimes, it just may not be enough power under the circumstances. But any landing you can walk away from is a good one, as the saying goes.

Happy landings and Merry Christmas!
 

WaspAir

Supreme Allied Gyro CFI
I'm a bit confused by the notion of "practicing autorotations" (a gyroplane is always in autorotation whenever it is airborne, with the rotor driven by airflow, whether in cruise, climb, or descent, excepting only highly unusual situations such as jump take-offs). In the helicopter world, the term is used for that brief period when the airflow is reversed from normal powered flight during an emergency, but a gyro just glides without any airflow reversal through the rotor, so the term is inapt. Did you mean simulated power-out landings?
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Thank you for the information Antony.

It is nice to know more about what happened when such an experienced pilot has a mishap.

I have no doubt the same thing could happen to me.

I have seen wind shears on approach close to twenty knots at Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo with no reported gusts on the ATIS.

I hope you are back up again flying and teaching soon.
 
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