Fatal Gyro Accident in Putnam County, Fl

loftus

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The only thing I am not clear about is how do you experience sustained "nose lightness" practicing on a long runway? Does the nose wheel lift off occasionally or make contact with the runway, or does it stay planted? Does one experience "nose dart" if rudder is applied in a linked nosewheel? How is it different from taxying fast with the blades spinning? Even the FAA Gyroplane Handbook explains the "balancing on the mains" as part of a normal take off.

In every take off at some point the nose wheel will lift off before the mains do.

Could you give me the name of the CFI that taught you this method? I'd like to have a discussion with him/her regarding this just to understand maintaining this "nose lightness" along the length of the runway better. How is keeping the nose wheel actually up and balancing on the mains without contacting the runway not a safer technique?
Essentially it is the prequel to balancing on the mains, not a crazy sprint down the runway, but mostly starting out with feeling how at fairly low speed , as the stick is brought forward RRPM slows and aircraft speed increases and visa versa, from there to then feeling stick position and power management for lightening and then eventually lifting the nose and then balancing on the mains. I guess that's the best way I can describe it. Desmon Butts was my instructor. The first place he took me for that was a strip north of Houston somewhere which had a runway that if I recall was close to a mile long. When I learn anything, I try to distill it down to one or two simple things. I have not flown a gyro in a while now, but if I could distill landing and takeoff in a gyro to one thing I would concentrate on, that was knowing and feeling what the nose and hence the nose wheel is doing. I felt that if I got that right, everything else followed. I actually fly my FW Aircam very much the same, as in many ways being a high drag FW I don't find it that much different. All I have to do is maintain the right attitude and the landings particularly take care of themselves.
 
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anthom

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Thank you for your explanation. That clarifies a lot. BTW, Desmon was also my instructor, and I believe we had discussed the nose dart problem when I was being trained on my tandem Air Command and his MTO. If I'm not mistaken, I believe you had visited our club at Anahuac with him when you were starting out in gyros. I could be wrong.
 

loftus

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Thank you for your explanation. That clarifies a lot. BTW, Desmon was also my instructor, and I believe we had discussed the nose dart problem when I was being trained on my tandem Air Command and his MTO. If I'm not mistaken, I believe you had visited our club at Anahuac with him when you were starting out in gyros. I could be wrong.
Yes Anahuac was one of the places we visited when I trained with him in Houston.
 

Vance

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Even though both gyroplanes are AR-1 but there are differences that are significant between the two.
The one in Florida is AR-1 configuration (open cockpit without canopy) and with Rotax 914UL being flown by a single occupant who weighs 235 pounds in the front seat. So a much guy with less HP and no canopy. AR-1 open cockpit is the easiest to manage and you can almost put your feet down on the floor if you have the correct tension in the rudder cables 40 to 45 pounds and do absolutely nothing with the rudder except may be a little right pressure on takeoff. It also is a 2019 production model which means it has the old rudder and tail with no balance horn on it.

The red one in Utah is 2020 production and has 915 engine and a canopy and rudder with balance horn that came out in mid 2020 being flown by a light weight pilot. The minimum weight in front seat with 915iS is 144 pounds and pilot in Utah was 154 pounds. That's about the same weight as me. The POH update for AR-1 with 915 says the following

2.7.3 Minimum Flight Crew and Crew Weight
At least one pilot in the front seat is required to operate the aircraft. Minimum pilot
weight is 144 pounds (65 kg) in the front seat.
Maximum power at minimum takeoff weight can cause an abrupt climb rate in standard conditions
that, if not corrected, may cause climb angles of greater than the placarded maximum specially
with 915iS engine.
Approximately 80% of maximum take-off power is considered comfortable for a minimum weight
takeoff. Take off distance will be extended at reduced power.

WARNING
Always operate the aircraft from the front seat when flying solo.


So there are significant differences between the two accidents. In Florida, the pilot had flown off Phase-I hours and had done numerous 50 to 100 mile cross country flights before the accident and had shown no tendency to overcontrol etc. I had personally transitioned him to AR-1 after his add-on with primary training in an ELA G08 (?) which is similar enough that within 2 hours he was safe enough in AR-1and we spent 1 last hour doing emergency engine outs etc. Both pilots were airplane pilots and instrument rated
The point I was trying to make Abid is there are no similarities between these two accidents beyond they were both American Ranger gyroplanes.

At this time I don’t believe either of the accidents are related to the design of the American Ranger.

I feel writing about these two accidents as though they were related is misleading.

Years ago Air Traffic Control didn’t want me to fly my gyroplane at the Santa Maria Public Airport because “the last gyroplane guy ended up dead over the river.” I looked up the accident and it was 22 years ago and the inebriated pilot fell out of the aircraft when his seat belt slipped. This did not seem to me to be related to how likely I was to crash my gyroplane at the Santa Maria Public Airport.
 

Resasi

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If the student/pilot or instructor have a spare machine for teaching hand patting for this exercise than it would be great experience.
A practice/idea I have put forward as a cheap easy way to expand student knowledge about rotor handling and understanding for a while now.





Putnam. Pilots with hours, instrument rated, "looks like steep descent with impact/fire" in densely wooded area. Looking like possible total/partial engine failure, unfortunate impact area.

Utah. Possible pilot induced oscillation with rotor/airframe contact. Sounds like pilot unfamiliarity with machine.
 
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fara

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A practice/idea I have put forward as a cheap easy way to expand student knowledge about rotor handling and understanding for a while now.





Putnam. Pilots with hours, instrument rated, "looks like steep descent with impact/fire" in densely wooded area. Looking like possible total/partial engine failure, unfortunate impact area.

Utah. Possible pilot induced oscillation with rotor/airframe contact. Sounds like pilot unfamiliarity with machine.

Wait where do you get "steep descent with impact/fire". There is no information like that I have been told. Can you share your source for this information?
 

Greg Vos

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I respect the guys who wish to expand on the hand Turing for a student to appreciate the rotor ...but in the new modern machines (that many will purchase) hand turning is not possible, it’s a bit like a driving school who teach track days ... they are not going to touch on hand cranking a motor like we did in the 20’s?
IMO rotor handling can be demonstrated and discussed without hand turning and the new pre rotator set ups are very reliable
 

MilesW

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I respect the guys who wish to expand on the hand Turing for a student to appreciate the rotor ...but in the new modern machines (that many will purchase) hand turning is not possible, it’s a bit like a driving school who teach track days ... they are not going to touch on hand cranking a motor like we did in the 20’s?
IMO rotor handling can be demonstrated and discussed without hand turning and the new pre rotator set ups are very reliable

The "crank handle" is a bit of a silly analogy that gets trotted out every now then. No one never did learn anything about driving from starting the engine (crank or starter), but there are valuable lessons to be learnt from hand starting the rotor.
The patting up is only the beginning of the process.
A reasonable compromise is to use the prerotator to emulate the hand start revs and then set the student to bring them up from there. I realize some machines may be configured to prevent this. Poorly conceived in my view.
Judging by the regularity of machines being balled up on takeoff, however rotor management skills are being taught, the lessons are not sticking.

Miles
 

BEN S

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Greg, yoy and I seem to agree on most topics. Not with you on this one.
See in your analogy there is nothing to be learned from hand cranking the motor as it relates to safely running the engine on the track once it running.
Yes people can and do teach how to read a rotor tach to know when you are in the safe zone, but what happens when its not reading right, or the screen goes dead? The student learning to hand pat rotors is like learning the relationship between a gas pedal and clutch. Books can only teach so much. Once your understand whats expected of you as a student driver, who among us has actually gone out and run a clutch/gas pedal from reading without stalling or riding the clutch? You have to learn by doing.
In a gyro, its harder. Its not just two things to control, its timing, the rotor speed, the rate of decay and the wind and forward speed all playing a part. As I said, once you have learned to do it you are forever aware.
Also, I personally, were I CFI not pass a student who couldnt get to balancing on the mains WITHOUT a rotor tach!
You should be able to see the blades and feel the wheel raise...
A place like El Mirage is perfect for this kind of training.
I'm not expecting a Sea Change in the mentality of gyro instructors/manufactures, but heres an idea...
An F16 throttle has a mechsnical interlock to go to afterburner (saw it on you tube) if your gyro has so much fucking power as to be tourqe rolly and dangerous, how about a slot on the throttle (like a gear shift pattern) to put it in the full throttle position?
If our newest students don't survive the formative learining curve, the manufacturers will have no one to sell to.

But I'm sure 10 guys will come on here and tell me how old, stupid outdated and behind the times my way of thinking is. The RWF is good for that.
 

PW_Plack

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IMO rotor handling can be demonstrated and discussed without hand turning and the new pre rotator set ups are very reliable

I guess it needs to be pointed out that it's not the hand-starting that provides the lesson, but starting the takeoff roll with very low rotor RPM. Use the reliable prerotator to get the blades to only 60 RPM if you like, then face the wind or start a slow taxi to bring them to flight RPM. That's the part of the experience that puts you in touch with what the machine is trying to say.

The "prerotators are very reliable" seems to imply that the only time you'd need the skill is when the prerotator breaks. That's not the point. Learning to bring the blades up to speed by feel has benefits far beyond just not being stranded by a broken belt.
 

XXavier

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I guess it needs to be pointed out that it's not the hand-starting that provides the lesson, but starting the takeoff roll with very low rotor RPM. Use the reliable prerotator to get the blades to only 60 RPM if you like, then face the wind or start a slow taxi to bring them to flight RPM. That's the part of the experience that puts you in touch with what the machine is trying to say.

The "prerotators are very reliable" seems to imply that the only time you'd need the skill is when the prerotator breaks. That's not the point. Learning to bring the blades up to speed by feel has benefits far beyond just not being stranded by a broken belt.


In larger gyros (ELAs or Magnis) I didn't believe that was possible, but it is... One day, some years ago, a group of gyros from an airfield 500 km away paid us a visit. An ELA -lets call it 'gyro A' had trouble with the transmission to the pre-rotator. In order to pre-rotate for the take-off run, another ELA, 'gyro B', parked along the runway, before him, at a distance of 10-15 meters. The pilot of gyro A stood up on the back seat and turned the rotor by hand, thus getting 15 rpm or so. He then sat on the front seat, and gyro B opened the throttle with the brakes firmly set, thus creating a 'wind' that slowly increased the revs of the rotor of gyro A. Little by little, the revs of the rotor visibly increased. At some point, the pilot of gyro A slowly opened the throttle too, further (but very slowly and carefully) revving up his own rotor.

When revs reached 40 rpm (the pilot gave me that figure later), gyro B left the runway free, and gyro A started the take-off run, slowly and carefully... For the take-off, it needed almost 80% of the 1000-meter tarmac strip that we have.

A nice operation, well planned, probably coordinated by radio, and carefully executed... With the very flexible (and long: 27') rotor of the ELA, I didn't believed that possible without the rotor hitting the stops, and the blades flexing, still un-rigidized by rotational inertia, hitting the tail and the prop.

Later in the day, I was told that the pilot was a highly experienced man, with thousands of hours in different gyros... No wonder. These things rarely succeed by chance...
 

Greg Vos

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Well I for one will never question any training that improves pilot skill and safety, in training I often cover the rotor tach and explain and demonstrate to a student pilot or converting pilot that you can judge Rrpm by watching it spin (monitor the tips cutting at a point) but I will also be the first to tell a newbie that if you prerotator is not working correctly don’t fly, if your not skilled with getting the rotor to build up slow by rolling fwd and if you don’t have sufficient runway or your on a bumpy runway don’t do it, pack it away get it fixed... we don’t drive our cars when we have issues why is there an urgency to fly recreational aircraft if it s having a bad hair day?
I had a prerotator actuator cable break I was 500km from home and we needed to get home, I was with another CFI he and I discussed our plan, he went and engaged it manually till we had it turning ...being careful not to get hurt as the prop is only inches away, then he walked to the front of the craft so I could see him, then I gently ran it until we had bite, being mindful of not over throttling till it was speeding up. We did have a long Rw, but I say again if your craft is not in perfect flying condition don’t fly, get it fixed good pilots know when not to fly.
 

MilesW

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Well I for one will never question any training that improves pilot skill and safety, in training I often cover the rotor tach and explain and demonstrate to a student pilot or converting pilot that you can judge Rrpm by watching it spin (monitor the tips cutting at a point) but I will also be the first to tell a newbie that if you prerotator is not working correctly don’t fly, if your not skilled with getting the rotor to build up slow by rolling fwd and if you don’t have sufficient runway or your on a bumpy runway don’t do it, pack it away get it fixed... we don’t drive our cars when we have issues why is there an urgency to fly recreational aircraft if it s having a bad hair day?
I had a prerotator actuator cable break I was 500km from home and we needed to get home, I was with another CFI he and I discussed our plan, he went and engaged it manually till we had it turning ...being careful not to get hurt as the prop is only inches away, then he walked to the front of the craft so I could see him, then I gently ran it until we had bite, being mindful of not over throttling till it was speeding up. We did have a long Rw, but I say again if your craft is not in perfect flying condition don’t fly, get it fixed good pilots know when not to fly.

You seem fixated on broken prerotators.
The exercise is not to teach how to fly without a prerotator. It is to teach and ingrain in the finer points of rotor management.

Miles
 

Philbennett

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I'd like to learn the "finer points" of rotor management. Where can I do that please? I live in the UK about 30mins north by train [50mins in a car traffic willing] from central London. Greg is in South Africa and the 2 recent accident pilots can be classed as having Florida and Utah as locations. None of us would spend more than $200/hr or make the travelling to / from the venue overly inconvenient. Thanks.
 

Resasi

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Wait where do you get "steep descent with impact/fire". There is no information like that I have been told. Can you share your source for this information?
Sorry Fara it was from post No 9 and I was well out of line with my inference. I had just finished a conversation with a very experienced flight instructor from Rochester who recently had a partial loss of power on his machine shortly after take off. He managed to turn back to the airport but was unable to maintain alt and as he said, was in a fairly rapid rate of descent into an area short of the airfield. It was reasonably clear ground and managed a safe landing. Apparently one cylinder had failed. I then ‘remembered’ part of Christines post, thought it was about the Palatka accident but into a wooded area, it was not, and made that misleading post.

I mis-remembered Christine’s comment, then misquoted it. My sincere apologies for this wild shot from the hip.


Very interesting that the gyro is relatively whole ..... sounded like an " as controlled a landing as possible" in forest terrain!
Having seen a high angle- terrain impact wreckage ...recently & also other hard impacts with 914 powered gyros ... fire with spilled fuel on the hot turbo seems to be high occurrence!
(My observation over the years ..is that 912 powered gyros ...do not seem to catch fire as often as 914's do!...????)
 
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Resasi

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I'd like to learn the "finer points" of rotor management. Where can I do that please? I live in the UK about 30mins north by train [50mins in a car traffic willing] from central London. Greg is in South Africa and the 2 recent accident pilots can be classed as having Florida and Utah as locations. None of us would spend more than $200/hr or make the travelling to / from the venue overly inconvenient. Thanks.
Pretty sure you have grasped the finer points very well Phil. :)

And without the benefit of patting up a single.
 

fara

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Sorry Fara it was from post No 9 and I was well out of line with my inference. I had just finished a conversation with a very experienced flight instructor from Rochester who recently had a partial loss of power on his machine shortly after take off. He managed to turn back to the airport but was unable to maintain alt and as he said, was in a fairly rapid rate of descent into an area short of the airfield. It was reasonably clear ground and managed a safe landing. Apparently one cylinder had failed. I then ‘remembered’ part of Christines post, thought it was about the Palatka accident but into a wooded area, it was not, and made that misleading post.

I mis-remembered Christine’s comment, then misquoted it. My sincere apologies for this wild shot from the hip.

No problem. Just making sure I did not miss anything. I did not even know there were any gyroplane instructors in Rochester (NY?). I went to engineering school there for 5 years. Cold hell. Couldn't pay me enough to go back
 

Greg Vos

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You seem fixated on broken prerotators.
The exercise is not to teach how to fly without a prerotator. It is to teach and ingrain in the finer points of rotor management.

Miles
So let me get on the same page as you, one can only learn the fine art of rotor management when you hand pat the rotor..🤔..Miles with respect modern gyroplanes are built with efficient pre rotator mechanisms, once the rotors have 100 odd Rrpm you will need to be a knuckle head to fuk it up and then you should consider if flying rotor craft is for you...modern Gyroplanes speed the rotor very fast and we see 100 -120 in seconds ... don’t move until you see this or move slow.... I appreciate the less complex purley home built examples will require hand turning and then one should concentrate on its unique characteristics and spend time with a suitable instructor on type.
Spending time mastering a single seat gyro and hand turning techniques is of no value if one has the intention to purchase a modern gyroplane, I think you guys don’t drive home the importance of good training on type.

I doubt I will gain any usable knowledge at this time of my gyroplane knowledge if I was exposed to hand turning? Nor would I gain any advantage if I was to row a canoe if I was in the market for a Bayliner with twin V8’s ...
 

EI-GYRO

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So let me get on the same page as you, one can only learn the fine art of rotor management when you hand pat the rotor..🤔..Miles with respect modern gyroplanes are built with efficient pre rotator mechanisms, once the rotors have 100 odd Rrpm you will need to be a knuckle head to fuk it up and then you should consider if flying rotor craft is for you...modern Gyroplanes speed the rotor very fast and we see 100 -120 in seconds ... don’t move until you see this or move slow.... I appreciate the less complex purley home built examples will require hand turning and then one should concentrate on its unique characteristics and spend time with a suitable instructor on type.
Spending time mastering a single seat gyro and hand turning techniques is of no value if one has the intention to purchase a modern gyroplane, I think you guys don’t drive home the importance of good training on type.

I doubt I will gain any usable knowledge at this time of my gyroplane knowledge if I was exposed to hand turning? Nor would I gain any advantage if I was to row a canoe if I was in the market for a Bayliner with twin V8’s ...
Must be a lot of knuckleheads out there, then.
 

Greg Vos

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Must be a lot of knuckleheads out there, then.
Sadly .... brings my instant attention to the training and the instructor.....mabye you lot feel spread sheets tutorial videos and you tube video as is what training is about?
for me training is about being in the seat ...
putting the aircraft into unusual attitudes... taking the student out of his comfort zone....especially ATP’s who have been ex fighter pilots or airline pilots ... demonstration of what can and will go wrong, doing it time and time again until we are satisfied...there are some who think flight instruction is a easy job... really ....signing someone out is easy...sleeping at night knowing you have taken HIM through every scenario you can imagine is diffrent...
there are those who are on record saying a gyro is like flying a tail dragger...😳 really show me any fixed wing that has zero fwd speed zero IAS and is fully controlled....yet there are guys who say this? and are intimidated by the ATP 😤 a gyro is not a FW it’s not a heli, it’s gyroplane and one needs to learn and understand it’s unique flight characteristics...hey but what the fuk do I know 🤔 I got my instructors rating at a local library and my test pilot rating I did via online courses after paying my subs🍾 I did of course qualify as a aeroplane pilot and a helicopter pilot before making these ridiculous comparisons 😉

I’m TIBA on this one boys
 
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