Chris Lord October 31, 2018

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Kolibri

FW and Gyros
Chris Lord was my first gyro CFI, and a friend.
I'm respectfully trying to do right by him. Most people here seem to understand that.
 

loftus

Active Member
Kolibri;n1140331 said:
Jtnock, I agree. There are many scenic places I'd like to land my RAF, but can't.
I think Sport Copter's upcoming M2 will be the only 2-place "off-road" gyro.
Shock-absorbed wishbone suspension, 1.25" steel axle, trailed/free-castering nosewheel, and big 6.00x6 tires all around.
I think gyro's are somewhat limited in terms of terrain more by the punishment the rotor assembly and blades might take on take off and landing roll/taxiing, rather than their undercarriage and suspension. Level dirt roads etc are fine, but some of the back country terrain that appropriate FW's can fly into would be very punishing, possibly unsafe in an aircraft with an unpowered rotor.
 

rdalcanto

Newbie
89pjqvZ0TDy8qpyG%h32HQ.jpg
Jtnock;n1140267 said:
I crashed a Tercel a few months ago due to this very thing. Lost left and right cyclic control... thankfully not fore aft control...and was stuck in a moderate right hand turn. Of course on touch down the gyro rolled over to the right and destroyed the gyro.

Trendak had no interest in determining what failed and the faa investigator said "experimental aircraft with no injuries... opened and closed case" and then wrote in his report that no malfunction was found? Well I suppose that's true since no investigation was done.

My best guess is that one of the poorly and under-designed mounting brackets holding the control cable to the mast became weak and broke due to vibration exposure. The bracket I suspect broke prior to impact had no bending or twisting and was very clean as compared to the other broken parts which were all twisted and bent from breaking on impact.

I spent several hours on the phone with Chris Lord discussing my crash and whether to purchase another gyro. He was an awesome guy and gave me completely unbiased advice even though he had an obvious vested interest in autogyro. He in fact convinced me not to purchase another gyro because the gyro I needed "hasn't been built yet". I now own a carbon cub.

I loved the gyro, but I will never fly another one with control cables. Control cables are one thing in an environment with minimal vibration and wear, but they have no place on an inherently vibration inducing gyro. Worse yet is that the manufacturer has no interest in investigating and potentially preventing future incidents.

Check those cables.
Have you looked into the Magni M24? It still uses the old style steel rods for control and seems bullet proof. I built one with the 915 and the power with two 180+ pound people is incredible. Mine is currently being shipped from Italy, but if I remember right from the post construction test flights, we were climbing at close to 1,000 ft/min with two people. Almost 2,000 ft/min with one person. 5 bladed Duc prop. Photo shows Flash blades. Ended up with Flash 2 blades after side by side testing with another M24 with 915.
 

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rdalcanto

Newbie
Getting back on topic, I have talked a lot to one of Chris's good friends and fellow DPE. He is convinced that he had to have had a control failure to crash into a mobile home with so many good landing options close by, and with the audio from the Mayday call. It sounds like he was trying to use the engine and limited weight shift to control pitch attitude. My father just had his annual on his Cavalon, and to the best of my knowledge, they did not take the control cables apart to inspect them. How does anyone know if there is a problem inside those cables? Like everyone here, I'm deeply saddened and concerned about Chris's accident and death. I donated money to his family, but I know that will not accomplish much.
 

loftus

Active Member
I think a big consideration here is the apparent history relating to this aircraft with a previous accident and repair; my understanding is that it was a relatively low time aircraft and with a history of 'issues'. I'm not aware that there have been any issues with the push-pull cables in other Cavalons or Calidus aircraft. It stands to reason that some type of issue or damage relating to the previous accident(s) and not appropriately resolved is the most likely cause. Rather this than a blanket judgement of push pull cables and Calidus or Cavalon aircraft. One issue that plagued Autogyro particularly early on in the US, were the deficiencies in their builder assist programs. My hangar mate, (an experienced helicopter pilot) with a newly built Calidus (#2 or #3 in the country) was ready to sell it because he felt it was unsafe to fly until the build problems were rectified by another builder assistant who fixed the problems that his initial builder assistant had created. He now has over 200 trouble free hours and she flies beautifully. Autogyro USA have fixed a lot of these problems with the builder assists, though I am not convinced that all the problems have been resolved. I myself had a control loss issue due to failure to torque a bolt during the initial build. I was extremely lucky to land safely without damage or injury, and not suffer complete loss of control as Chris did. I think the Calidus and Cavalons particularly are more complex to build than the MTO, but even with the MTO, I am aware of several very poor and often dangerous, initial builds, rectified by another person who not only knew what they were doing but were simply better craftsmen with better attention to detail. Many owners of the new gyros from Europe are not your traditional builders (myself included) so they have to trust in the knowledge and skills of their builder assistant. I really don't think that this accident is an indictment of the aircraft design. I think it is highly likely that Autogyro people were involved in the accident investigation in Sebring, so hopefully their input will also be helpful, if they are forthcoming.
My advice to anyone who is not an experienced builder with any of the new gyros, choose your builder assist carefully, and even if they are approved dealers appointed for your area, call other owners who built with them to ask their opinions. These aircraft are well proven designs, that if built properly should fly perfectly right out of the gate with only relatively minor adjustments. If an owner describes any ongoing issues beyond the initial flight testing period, be very suspect of the build, not the aircraft design. This is even more critical if the aircraft has any accident history. Preferably, build at the factory or a proper factory appointed location if you have the slightest doubt.
 

Kolibri

FW and Gyros
I think gyro's are somewhat limited in terms of terrain more by the punishment the rotor assembly and blades might take on take off and landing roll/taxiing, rather than their undercarriage and suspension.
You've a point there, loftus, but I think such limitation is greatly reduced if the gyro's prerotator can achieve 100+% flight rrpm.
Then, with the Rotax 915iS, the M2's takeoff roll should be under 50 feet with a little bit of wind on the nose.
I think with its suspension during such a short roll that it'll take some rough terrain.


It stands to reason that some type of issue or damage relating to the previous accident(s) and not appropriately resolved is the most likely cause.
I agree with you that M198LT's mechanical issues were probably specific to that gyro (and its build quality) vs. the design as a whole.
I liked that you urge a quality build assist. GIGO applies to aircraft.

My main issue with push/pull cables is that they cannot be internally inspected during pre-flight.
If N198LT had a rollover, and IF the cables were compromised but not replaced, then perhaps they failed on that day.

There are people (including CFIs, as I understand it) who had flown that Cavalon.
They have an opinion about its build quality and flight characteristics. It would be helpful if they spoke up.

Also, its repair history seems rather muddled. Some say it had been rolled over, but another person allegedly in the know says that it hadn't.
That should be resolved, as it's an important point of post-crash analysis.

_____
The oddest thing to me about N198LT is its hours discrepancy.
16.6 hours on 4 October 2018 for its annual condition inspection.
Yet 40TT weeks earlier on 15 August in its Barnstormers ad.
The same 40TT was claimed on 4 September in Trade-A-Plane.


20180815 N198LT Barnstormers ad.png


20180904 N198LT Trade-A-Plane ad.png20180815 N198LT Barnstormers ad.png20180904 N198LT Trade-A-Plane ad.png
 
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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Kolibri;n1140365 said:
If N198LT had a rollover, and IF the cables were compromised but not replaced, then perhaps they failed on that day.

There are people (including CFIs, as I understand it) who had flown that Cavalon.
They have an opinion about its build quality and flight characteristics. It would be helpful if they spoke up.

Also, its repair history seems rather muddled. Some say it had been rolled over, but another person allegedly in the know says that it hadn't.
That should be resolved, as it's an important point of post-crash analysis.[/COLOR]

_____
The oddest thing to me about N198LT is its hours discrepancy.
16.6 hours on 4 October 2018 for its annual condition inspection.
Yet 40TT weeks earlier on 15 August in its Barnstormers ad.
The same 40TT was claimed on 4 September in Trade-A-Plane.




It is not hard to imagine the date of the completion of phase one slipping particularly if the owner hired it done.

The condition inspection may have had to be done in order to be airworthy to fly phase one.

What possible relevance to the accident could a slightly misleading ad have?

Chris flew N198LT for two hours that morning and probably would have noticed if it didn't fly well or had excessive rotor shake.

It seems unlikely to me that Chris would take a friend flying on a 63 mile cross country at near VNE in a gyroplane that didn't fly well.
 

EdL

Comm Rotor Gyro, ASEL
To me, the “possible relevance” is the apparent confusion over whether this was a damaged gyro that was rebuilt (and possibly incorrectly) or a new one with a possible design/manufacturing flaw. Seems very relevant.

A catastrophic failure of a control cable would not likely have given any indication during the preceding two flight hours.

/Ed
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
EdL;n1140373 said:
To me, the “possible relevance” is the apparent confusion over whether this was a damaged gyro that was rebuilt (and possibly incorrectly) or a new one with a possible design/manufacturing flaw. Seems very relevant.

A catastrophic failure of a control cable would not likely have given any indication during the preceding two flight hours.

/Ed
In what way does the ad address the confusion you feel Ed?


As I interpret Kolibri's gossip many knew N198LT flew like a pig and had excess rotor vibration.

Apparently the A&P mechanic didn't notice it when he signed off N198LT as airworthy after performing a condition inspection.

It seems likely Chris would have noticed poor flying qualities and excess rotor vibration in his morning flight.

It seems unlikely to me that Chris would take a friend flying in a gyroplane that had poor flying qualities and excess rotor vibration.

I am not inclined to assume the worst about the gyroplane or the people involved with it.

A very small problem or mistake can kill people in any aircraft.

I don't know enough to have an opinion about the cause of the accident and I am not looking for someone to blame.

I would like to know what happened to my friend and how to keep it from happening to me.

I have not had much success with gossip or accusations when it comes to determining a probably cause of any accident.

I suspect more will be revealed.

We may never know for certain what happened.
 

loftus

Active Member
Without resorting to any rumors I think we can say a few things about the accident and come to one or two conclusions.
The accident occurred due to failure of aircraft components resulting in loss of the ability to control the aircraft, and NOT related to pilot error.
As the aircraft was a relatively new aircraft with low hours, it is extremely unlikely that the loss of control was due to a defect of a well proven aircraft design, or normal and usual possible failure of a component so early in it's life cycle. It seems we are left with some defect in the initial build or any repairs to the aircraft that resulted in premature failure of one or more components. I think this is all we can speculate at this time. As Vance says we may never know, and as Kolibri says we should keep in mind the potential issue with these push pull cables due to difficulty of inspection and pay more attention to these if one owns of these aircraft.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
One of the many reasons for phase one for experimental amateur built aircraft is people are not perfect; particular amateurs and when they build something there may be errors.

Historically there are a disproportionate number of accidents in phase one.

The aircraft is not suddenly safe after forty hours of flight testing.

Historically aircraft are more likely to have a mechanical failure after recent work.

It only takes one error to bring an aircraft down and I have made errors myself that could have brought an aircraft down.

I have also missed flight critical problems on a preflight.

There is a reason we are required by the FAA to warn passengers of the experimental nature of the aircraft. Most passengers are not knowledgeable enough to make an informed risk assessment. In this case the passenger was.

New parts aren't perfect; I feel to rule them out because they are new may be a mistake.

I have found enough build or maintenance errors inspecting aircraft to make me very cautious and inspect aircraft very carefully before I fly.

My caution is not limited to experimental amateur built aircraft.

More than once at a fly-in I had hoped to fly a particular model gyroplane only to find that in my opinion the example there was not airworthy on that day. That only suggests I am not comfortable with the aircraft. It does not suggest it will crash because of what in my opinion I identify as not airworthy.

Any rotor control system has multiple points of potential failure.

In my opinion repeating unsubstantiated rumors and pretending they point to a probable cause is of no benefit to anyone but a personal injury attorney because the jury may not be sophisticated enough to discount the innuendo.

If it was a control system failure Chris did his best to find it before it became a problem and did his best to manage the problem once it occurred.

I am not convinced it was a control system failure.

I feel I do not have enough reliable information to speculate about what the probable cause was.

There is a reason it is referred to as the probable cause even after extensive investigation.

I am confident that everyone involved did their best to avoid this accident.

Because of the damage to the aircraft I suspect we will never know exactly what happened or why.

I will be pleased to “give it a rest” when people stop gossiping and looking for someone to demonize about this accident.
 

Doug Riley

Platinum Member
The use of push-pull cables (Morse Teleflex and the like) in primary controls is somewhat controversial. They are in use in tens of thousands of outboard-motor steering units. They turn up in the primary controls of FW ultralights such as the Quicksilver series. (In the latter application, they've been troublesome in cold climates if the cables are routed with a low point in the middle; moisture can get into the housing, trickle down to the low point and ice up.) Some Little Wing gyros have them. IIR, some of those used two cables per axis for redundancy.

I'm on the fence about them myself. Overall, these units are very nicely made and priced accordingly. As others have already said, their internals are not inspectable, including the all-important transition from wire to solid end stud. The end fittings themselves don't have an aircraft-quality look to them; to me, they look more like hardware-store-grade bolts and nuts. If trusting my life to them in a high-vibration application, I'd want to know the alloy, temper and manufacturing method used to create them. I would be very suspicious of stainless steel in such a fatigue-prone environment; stainless is not great for that application (as we sailboaters know).

If this aircraft had a rough-running rotor at some point in its history, as seems to be the case, fatigue in the control cables is a possibility.

But we've lost several prominent gyro pilots in the past to failures of control-system components other than push-pull cables. In some cases, the designs weren't great. In others, the installation or maintenance wasn't great.

Whatever the cause of this accident, we should design and build our control systems to be brutal. Good old 4130 steel (not stainless and not aluminum) is an ideal material. Pushrods with 3-piece aircraft rod end bearings of 3/8" shank are simple, inspectable and reliable as long as the rod ends don't jam at angles that are achieved in use. The more bellcranks, "scissors," and other intermediate doohickeys, the more failure points you've voluntarily created. In "tub" gyros with pods, the possibility of small objects (cameras, etc.) getting into the control mechanism must be considered at the design stage. The Dominator control system is one of the better ones I've seen and used on a gyro.
 

Kolibri

FW and Gyros
It seems likely Chris would have noticed poor flying qualities and excess rotor vibration in his morning flight.

It seems unlikely to me that Chris would take a friend flying in a gyroplane that had poor flying qualities and excess rotor vibration.
Vance, you'll probably be surprised to learn that I agree with that.
To be clear, I doubt that he would fly a passenger in a gyro he knew or suspected to be seriously flawed.
The implication being that Chris seemed to believe that he'd solved the vibration problem, and was satisfied after his two hour flight earlier that day.



As I interpret Kolibri's gossip many knew N198LT flew like a pig and had excess rotor vibration.
Not "my" gossip. I've heard it from three different sources, and Christine Toevs mentioned it twice on FB.
Also, I had listened to the Mayday call before you even knew that there was one.
I.e., you may want to give me the benefit of the doubt that I've got some inside tracks on this.

You probably know many Florida CFIs, so why don't you ask them yourself about N198LT?



In my opinion repeating unsubstantiated rumors and pretending they point to a probable cause is of no benefit to anyone but a personal injury attorney

I feel I do not have enough reliable information to speculate about what the probable cause was.
Well, that's a stretch. Folks, including myself, are speculating aloud in order to hash out possibilities.
This is a mysterious crash, and the more gyro pilot eyes on the investigation, the better.



I am not convinced it was a control system failure.
Well, not only are you generally alone on that, if it wasn't a control system failure that caused a nosedive from 150' AGL . . . you've only pilot error left.
But since you've not questioned his skill, this rather boxes you into a corner, doesn't it?



__________
As the aircraft was a relatively new aircraft with low hours, it is extremely unlikely that the loss of control was due to a defect of a well proven aircraft design, or normal and usual possible failure of a component so early in it's life cycle. It seems we are left with some defect in the initial build or any repairs to the aircraft that resulted in premature failure of one or more components.
loftus, I agree. Even though I am not a fan of AutoGyro products, I do not believe that their designs or materials are so bad
that well-built machines would fail under 50 hours.



__________
Whatever the cause of this accident, we should design and build our control systems to be brutal. Good old 4130 steel (not stainless and not aluminum) is an ideal material. Pushrods with 3-piece aircraft rod end bearings of 3/8" shank are simple, inspectable and reliable as long as the rod ends don't jam at angles that are achieved in use. The more bellcranks, "scissors," and other intermediate doohickeys, the more failure points you've voluntarily created.
Amen, Doug,

Regards,
Kolibri
 

loftus

Active Member
The purpose of these accident threads, I would hope, is to try to learn as much as we can about the accident to hopefully prevent future accidents. Particularly when the definitive cause is unknown and may never be known, I think it is OK and valuable to speculate in a logical and respectful fashion, without ulterior motives. Even if it turns out that no definitive cause is ever ascertained, the exercise can only make all of us more thoughtful and thorough in our approach to building and maintaining our aircraft. We can also, after considered discussion, come to some pretty logical conclusions. The main one here being that pilot error is almost certainly not the cause, and failure of some aspect of the flight control mechanism was the most likely cause. Getting to the bottom of it of course is the ultimate goal, but learning, even if speculative, is not wasted discussing this. We owe it to Chris, ourselves, and our passengers.
 

EdL

Comm Rotor Gyro, ASEL
Vance;n1140298 said:
I doubt he would want someone to demonize him and denigrate the gyroplane community as Kolibri has done ignoring facts and embracing gossip.
In all your extensive answers can you show me where you pointed out demonization, ignored facts, and embraced gossip? I didn’t see any of those in this entire thread so would appreciate the clarification.

We’re all collectively trying to both deal with the loss of an excellent person/pilot//instructor (and yes, I knew Chris as well and have flown with him) and ensure the overall safety of our craft. One person’s opinion about the limited details available is another person’s “gossip”, apparently. Cuts both ways.

I respectfully ask we keep personal eye-poking off the chat and save it for PMs, if at all.
 

Kolibri

FW and Gyros
EdL, thank you for that, and I, too, would like to keep this thread on-topic and respectful.
I asked Vance to defend his allegation off-thread, in a message board, here.


_____________
The student pilot/manager of the LLC registered owner could clear up the mystery of N198LT's history and condition.
However, if a rollover happened and was not reported (as required, from significant damage), he may not be very talkative.

I just hope the truth comes out sufficiently to shed some light on this.

Regards,
Kolibri
 

Cammie Patch

Junior Member
One does not simply roll a Cavlon and rebuild it. It's not that kind of gyro. Unless you have proof of a previous accident, you are just propagating unfounded rumors that are pretty much unrealistic.

Has anyone noticed that this is the first fatality in a Cavalon in the USA? Or the UK for that matter. That is significant to me.
But, even one is too many.
 

Kolibri

FW and Gyros
Cammie, on FB you posted "Don't speculate that it rolled over unless you have absolute proof, about any of it for that matter."

If we had "absolute proof" there would be no need for speculation.
It is speculation and fact-finding that leads one to truth.


Yet in your next sentence, you began to speculate yourself: "If you listen to the tape, you can hear the engine cycling, which is not going to be a pilot input at that point."
and "Here is a very interesting thread on a Rotax forum that sounds a lot like what may have been happening with the engine [i.e., surging]."
You concluded with:

I think the facts point to pilot or engine more than or as much as machine.
So far, it seems to me much more of a control issue, so I disagree.
I wonder if some control part in the cockpit came undone or failed or was blocked.


You say that a rollover and subsequent repair is "unrealistic".
I don't quite understand that, as mild damage would seem repairable.
Many Cavalon crashes have resulted in rollovers; here are a few.
(I don't know if they were repaired or totaled.)


19-11-17 - Casa Grande airport, Arizona, USA - Auto-Gyro Cavalon - N953LS

23-10-16 Hondo airfield, Texas, USA - Auto-Gyro Cavalon - N477AG

20160819 - St Marienkirchen, near Suben, Austria - Auto-Gyro Cavalon - D-MXDR

14th June 2016 - Morningstar airfield, Western Cape, South Africa - Auto-Gyro Cavalon - ZU-RKR

Feb 15th 14 - Kitty Hawk, South Africa - ZU-RKC



There are other "realistic" scenarios, such as a rotor flap and partial tip-over, for example.
Or a hard landing that bent something.
If it was repaired on the QT, then reports of such would float about as rumor.


I've heard "rollover" and I've heard "accident", and I heard both before Christine Toevs posted the below on FB:

...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!

The gyro was known "problem child" from initial construction ....was it also rolled over and rebuilt???? ...THAT is the ?
John Rountree posted on FB:
Here are the best RUMORS I have to go on.
I only have rumors on both sides of being rolled over [or not].
I think Christine and John appropriately qualified what they'd heard as "rumors" or "hearsay".
I see nothing wrong with discussing rumors as long as they are not allowed to morph into "fact" without evidence.


Aviation people around West Palm Beach, Florida should weigh in here.

Regards,
Kolibri
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
EdL;n1140386 said:
In all your extensive answers can you show me where you pointed out demonization, ignored facts, and embraced gossip? I didn’t see any of those in this entire thread so would appreciate the clarification.
"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."

...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."

In my opinion if Kolibri heard the rumors Chris Lord likely heard the rumors.

I would not take a friend on a 64 nautical mile flight at near VNE in a Cavalon that had crashed and been badly repaired; that flew badly and had excessive rotor shake and I don’t know anyone who would.

This pretty well fits my definition of demonizing the pilot of the accident aircraft and AutoGyro USA.

This appears to me to be based on gossip.

It doesn't matter who said it first, he posted it; it is his gossip.
 
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