General Thoughts re Gyros

EdL

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Lots of great thoughts and perspectives in some other threads. Rather than put this particular idea into one of them, it seems reasonable to post a different thread.

Until the Eurotubs became more established in the US over the past decade or two, the vast majority of gyros were plans-built, often single-seaters, often flown by people with no (other) aviation rating. Both the increased popularity of the Eurotub designs plus the re-definition/enforcement of the FAA's Ultralight category has caused a shift in all of this. Still today, though, the majority of gyro pilots are either Sport Pilot Gyro only and/or started their flying in gyros. That's changing with SP add-ons for Private Pilots, but that's a relatively recent phenomenon.

By contrast, the significant majority of fixed-wing pilots are at least Private Pilot. Although many types of fixed-wing Ultralights and Experimental Light Sport craft exist, the majority of fixed-wing craft are either full-up certificated or meet LSA standards - for close to the past 100 years, I bet.

With absolutely no derogatory meaning intended, the gyro history/population/desire has historically been more akin to dirt bikes than street motorcycles. Fixed-wings are on-road cars, mostly (a GROSS simplification but hopefully one gets the point). Most fixed-wing pilots who add a gyro rating, myself included, do so for the "motorcycle" experience of the gyro - sometimes as a dirt bike, sometimes as a street bike. The "street bike" version of gyros is a recent phenomenon, I'd contend.

But anyone who rides a dirt bike on city streets had better follow city-street-driving rules; not "just" for the legality of it but primarily for the safety. Anyone who brings dirt-bike thinking and freedom to street driving may not like the outcome.

As one considers pattern work, etc. it may be worth considering whether or not we're trying to apply dirt-bike rules to city streets - among drivers who may not have ever seen a dirt bike before and have little idea what they can and will do. In fact, especially if one were to ask the non-flying population, they’d see gyros as “one of those things that guy landed on the White House lawn”.

Along these lines, the FAA is most familiar with gyros in the older, Bensen days ("dirt bikes"). Their regs lag the changes brought by the Eurotubs so far. Hopefully that's changing - but I suspect it will only change when they see gyros as safe to the non-flying public.

Just a thought...

/Ed
 

Philbennett

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Yes I can see the general point and part of the problem is that accident rate and not just the rate but the way these things get destroyed. By and large we have stopped killing ourselves but in a way destroying aircraft often before even getting airborne seems quite ridiculous to many.
 

Vance

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Those are some insightful observations Ed.

I agree that a lot of the problem is attitude and culture.

I have been following gyroplane accidents in the USA for twenty years Phil and I don’t agree with your conclusion.

We have been pretty consistent at between three and four deaths a year.

2018 was no exception with seventeen accidents reported to the NTSB with three fatalities; one in a Calidus and two in a Cavalon.

2017 was similar with fifteen accidents reported to the NTSB with three fatalities; one in Andy’s Gyro and two in a SparrowHawk.

In my opinion based on the available information these particular fatal accidents would not have been avoided with better training.

I feel there is value in understanding that flying a gyroplane is dangerous and I try to teach respect for the danger and provide the tools to mitigate the risk.

I feel the standards for FAA Sport Pilot, Gyroplane are very lax and would like to see more comprehensive practical test conducted by designated pilot examiners.

I have met many certificated gyroplane pilots who would in my opinion not pass a properly conducted Sport Pilot, Gyroplane practical test.
 

NJpilot

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Vance;n1142348 said:
2018 was no exception with seventeen accidents reported to the NTSB with three fatalities; one in a Calidus and two in a Cavalon.

2017 was similar with fifteen accidents reported to the NTSB with three fatalities; one in Andy’s Gyro and two in a SparrowHawk.

In my opinion based on the available information these particular fatal accidents would not have been avoided with better training.

I feel there is value in understanding that flying a gyroplane is dangerous and I try to teach respect for the danger and provide the tools to mitigate the risk.

I think one of those tools should be ballistic recovery and that the US gyro community should embrace it the same way fixed wing ultralights and experimental have, not to mention the certified Cirrus.

The European versions of BRS, Magnum and Galaxy, both have installations for gyros. http://www.galaxysky.cz/grs-5-560-115m2-gyro-p35-en https://youtu.be/LRZ471dQ6rQ

These fatal accidents may have benefitted from a ballistic recovery 'chute including the two fatalities in the Cavalon accident Vance mentioned.

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Philbennett

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Vance;n1142348 said:
In my opinion based on the available information these particular fatal accidents would not have been avoided with better training.

…. agree with most of the post but this.

2018/2017 fatals.

You had 4.

March 2018 - 100% a training issue https://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb....ev_id=20180305X44855&ntsbno=ERA18LA095&akey=1

The Chris Lord accident we await the decision but actually I think it will very much come down to a training issue.

The 2017 accidents seem unwitnessed and so far I can't find an NTSB report suggesting mechanical issues. Without that and with one crashing on final approach surely that becomes a piloting issue and therefore a training issue??
 

Vance

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In the USA we consider a dead person a fatality Phil.

There were six dead people from four gyroplane accidents from the beginning 2017 to the end of 2018.

Based on the information I have I feel the Calidus N221YT was probably a medical issue rather than a training issue. Pilot experience 944 hours (Total, all aircraft), 91 hours (Total, this make and model). He was at his home airport.

It would be hard to find someone better trained than either of the two pilots in the Cavalon N198LT accident. Chris Lord was a gyroplane flight instructor and a Designated Pilot Examiner and Chris B was a certificated gyroplane pilot.

I suspect a mechanical or a medical issue but we will probably never find out because of the extensive fire damage.
 

Philbennett

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Hang on Vance the Calidus accident has the NTSB report say he was practicing engine failures. It also references autopsy and toxicology evidence. You may have more information than me but the NTSB report would suggest pilot error than medical incapacitation?

You have hit the nail squarely on the head with the Cavalon accident. It was experienced, no doubt he was able to put the aircraft down on a pin if we reflect on our other thread. Yet you can surely only do that if you A) have control and B) have somewhere suitable to land.

If you do not have A then what does that tell you? It tells you he had the issue I suggest but wasn't aware - that's training. OR there was a control restriction which is either deeper maintenance or check A - for someone that's training. If however you do have control but you can not find somewhere suitable to land then that's airmanship which is also training.

Sadly like you say it doesn't help them and it will not help the rest of us to learn the lessons because of the damage. BUT one thing is for sure these things crash a lot and if you suggest we can't do anything then I think that is plain wrong.

In our engine failure scenario you can choose to be a topgun at engine out landings or just don't have engine outs.

A superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skill
 

Vance

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He was an experienced pilot and generally consistent.

He reported on the radio he was going to do a simulated engine out landing and then did something completely different.

Before Calidus N221YT became inverted it was reported that he was flying erratically.

I would not pretend I can find every potential mechanical issue on preflight or that I could teach someone to.

Chris had some better places to land nearby.

I feel it was likely a control issue or a medical issue.

The accurate engine at idle landing is required in the pratical test standards and I feel it is a good idea.

I feel one of the reasons a gyroplane can fly lower than a fixed wing safely is because of their ability to land in a very small landing zone.

I don't avoid teaching clients other things because I am busy teaching accurate engine at idle landings.

It is generally finished up in a single forty five minute lesson with perhaps six landings.

It is repeated once or twice as part of the practical test preparation.
 

Gyro28866

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Ed:
I think your analogy is spot on. I learned to fly in the early 1970's in Gliders and transitioned in a Piper J-3. In 1990, I purchased a Cessna 150J and completed my PPSEL rating; looking for something a bit more akin to my roots I traded for a 1947 108-1 Stinson. In 1995ish, I attended the PRA National flyin at Green Castle and took a ride with Steve Graves and then an hour of instruction with Ed Alderfer. I was instantly hooked on gyros. Within 3 months, I had my first 90 Mac powered Bensen B-8 and within 6 months sold my Stinson. I have been flying Gyro's ever since. In 2012, I purchased my Tandem Dominator and had to get a SP Gyro added to my PPL.
For me, nothing beats the pure joy of flying in a Gyro!!!
I especially enjoy the dirt biking down low over the large open area and jumping between fields around Wachula and Mentone.
At my home airport, I enjoy the freedom the management affords to me and allows me to operate from a parallel taxiway. As a courtesy, I inform them when I am going to fly, So they can let other Pilots know I am in the area, when they call for an Airport Advisory. Most times, I also respond to those advisory calls also. I try to be a Great Ambassador for the Gyro community. If another airplane enters the pattern, I will yield the right of way to that traffic. It is up to each one of us to represent the gyro community in a positive light within the aviation community.
 

Smack

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Gyro28866;n1142378 said:
Ed:
...they call for an Airport Advisory.

Sorry, David, I had to laugh when I imagined the wording of that Airport Advisory: "Watch out ! DAVID is flying ! Get outta the way !" :cool:

Brian
 

WaspAir

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I find the mention both of motorcycle analogies and Steve Graves in the posts above amusing. I remember talking with Steve Graves, roughly thirty years ago, and discussing the sort of students who came to him for rides/training in a Marchetti versus those who went to Don Farrington for the A&S18A. The phrase that sticks in my head from that conversation is, "off the Harley and into the skies".
 

Vance

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WaspAir;n1142399 said:
I find the mention both of motorcycle analogies and Steve Graves in the posts above amusing. I remember talking with Steve Graves, roughly thirty years ago, and discussing the sort of students who came to him for rides/training in a Marchetti versus those who went to Don Farrington for the A&S18A. The phrase that sticks in my head from that conversation is, "off the Harley and into the skies".

That was certainly me.

I owned Harley Davidson of Santa Maria at the time I became interested in gyroplanes.

The motorcycle I was riding when I had my mishap at Bonneville was Harley Davidson powered.

My neurologist suggested I find a different hobby as head injuries are cumulative.

To this day The Predator is my motorcycle in the sky.

I still think it would be fun to build a Harley Davidson powered gyroplane for air shows.
 
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