Gyro Down in Mesa County Colorado

Fly Army

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Night is an add on. There are several private certs out there with no night.
Yes but those are considered restricted Private Pilot Certificates because they do not meet the requirements of §61.109(d)(2),
I don't consider that to be a "Normal" Private Pilot Certificate. Also notice I said "Would allow" in my post.
 

E6B

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A question on pilotage: I worked as a dispatcher for a helicopter airline, for a short time, in the Los Angeles Basin. SOP was to fly IFR (I Follow Roads) in case of problems. While I was there, we did have an aircraft go down, not on the freeway but on a powerline right-of-way that paralleled the freeway.

Don't gyro pilots follow this common sense x-country technique?
 

ventana7

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Patrick,

I agree with the IFR (I follow roads) principle - when I flew my gyro around all the lower 48 states this was pretty much my SOP and it was very doable. But in Colorado (and maybe Arizona where you live) it is not always possible.

I remember awhile ago on the forum someone from Illinois or Iowa blithely said "never fly over terrain you can't land on"--- all of us out west here replied that if we did that we would almost never fly.

But you can certainly minimize your time over roadless areas and pick lower and friendlier terrain and it only adds a bit to the overall trip usually.

Rob
 

Vance

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I follow Roads.

I follow Roads.

A question on pilotage: I worked as a dispatcher for a helicopter airline, for a short time, in the Los Angeles Basin. SOP was to fly IFR (I Follow Roads) in case of problems. While I was there, we did have an aircraft go down, not on the freeway but on a powerline right-of-way that paralleled the freeway.

Don't gyro pilots follow this common sense x-country technique?
I just flew from Upland, California through the Los Angeles Basin and some very complex airspace.

I fly my terminal area chart and it keeps me out of trouble staying north of the 210.

I call each of the class D airports along the way (Bracket, El Monte and Whiteman) and report my distance, direction of flight and altitude based on the 210 freeway.

They have never had a problem finding me.

I fly over roads because if I have a poorly executed unplanned landing I want to be near people who will rescue me. It is not hard to die in the desert or a wilderness area so I don’t fly direct.

Generally the roads go through a pass so I don’t have to fly as high although this may cause some turbulence challenges.

I find I need oxygen at anything over about 7,500 feet MSL, less at night.

Regards, Vance
 

eddie

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oxygen improves your night vision, all of my night flying (probably 2,000 hrs or more)has

been using oxygen. night flying is without a doubt the most dangerous,that being said I

feel that daylight flying in a direct line and seeing whats below is completly safe.


Best regards,eddie.....
 

MichaelBurton

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My gyro accident

My gyro accident

We left Montrose Colorado after adding fuel to about half full. There was a nice light wind out of the north west. We used runway 31 as the wind was nearly direct. From that point we plotted a direct course to U77 Spanish fork and noted several fuel locations en route, We did not pick the next fuel location at that time. We were doing about 60 kts over the ground in a slow climb for the higher terrain(9000+) that we knew was ahead. All systems were operating well and I thought it would be good to get the other aircraft with the turbo into Spanish Fork with more light so I told them to leave us and proceed home. We watched them fly on course for some time and made our last radio transmission to them as they crossed the ridge near Grand junction Colorado.

As we approached the ridge I noted that we needed more altitude and turned left of course along the ridge while we climbed. Things were still going well but the climb rate had decreased somewhat. In looking back I should have expected the slight down draft from the wind cuming over the ridge and down on our side.

We were approaching the area where I knew there was lower terrain just north and west of our flight position. At this point we started to descend, I was at the best rate of climb speed of about 52kts ias, and I could see that we had descended lower than the trees at the edge of the canyon. I asked Josh to say a prayer just prior to brushing the tops of the trees with the main wheels. When we hit the trees the gyro tipped forward and right. I saw a small clearing and did everything I could to keep us upright and get into the treeless area. There was a stand of oak brush that we hit just prior to reaching the ground and the small clear area. The rotor blades cut the trees and were wrecked. the cabin hit the ground with minimal forward speed but there was a short near vertical drop. We slid forward only a few yards and came to a stop upright.

Josh opened the undamaged canopy and came around to help get me out. I believe he anticipated a possible fire. After assessing my injuries and getting me out of the aircraft I gave him my Mobile phone and removed the GPS from the aircraft, We tried the radios but I could not select any frequencies and I believed that the antenna was not working.

I sent Josh with the phones and GPS up to the top of the ridge.

I was unable to do much more than take short breaths. I pulled the rear seat cushion out and knelt on it for a moment to get my breath. I then decided I was going to be of no help and needed the warmth and shelter of the aircraft so I got back in.

Josh came back with news that he had reached S&R and had give GPS location of the crash. He wrapped his coat around me and marched around to keep warm occasionally checking to see if I could still talk.

THe helicopter missed us on the first pass but Josh was able to get a cell call out from the crash site directing them to us.

Josh got banged up but had no serious cuts or injuries. I sustained some minor cuts and a burst fracture of a thoracic vertebrae. I will recover without surgery. It will be a few months of recovery.
 

Vance

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Hope for a speedy recover!

Hope for a speedy recover!

Thank you for the report Michael.

I am glad it worked out and wish you a speedy recovery.

Regards, Vance
 

MichaelBurton

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Can't say I understand all the kudos and I don't think they give out awards for flying into box canyons. It is nice, however, to see such friendly support.
There was no "box Canyon" Yes I should have taken my exit route earlier. Sometimes things change quickly. I do not excuse my accident. I should have turned out early or even better turned right at the ridge as it descends in that direction.
 

Mike484

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Good o see your OK and healing up. Wish you a speedy recovery and too see you back in the air soon.
 

M._Springer

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Mike, Thank you for your report of the accident.

Mike, Thank you for your report of the accident.

I wish you a full and speedy recovery.
Marion
 

WaspAir

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Glider CFI (and gyro CFI) suggestions for mountains

Glider CFI (and gyro CFI) suggestions for mountains

This is a general comment/suggestion (not directed at Michael or his specific circumstances) but inspired by something he said.
At this point we started to descend, I was at the best rate of climb speed of about 52kts ias, and I could see that we had descended lower than the trees at the edge of the canyon.
Having spent a great deal of time flying gliders in the Rockies, with no ability to climb at will, I've developed a practice that is easily adapted for powered aircraft.

Many power pilots try to handle sinking air by slowing to best climb speed and adding full throttle. At high density altitude with lower power margins and with potentially very powerful down currents, that is often not a very good idea, but there is another way. If you are at best climb and still not going up, turn 45 degrees to course and INCREASE your speed.

Why turn?
Most subsiding air is highly localized, and you may get out of it quickly with a simple course adjustment. The last thing you want to do is continue in a band of sinking air along a ridge, when you could move away a little and be out of that flow.

Why more speed?
The less time you spend in sinking air the better, especially since there is likely still or rising air very close by. Your performance won't let you overpower it, so dash to get out of it. The loss you suffer from briefly flying above your best climb speed is likely to be much smaller than what you gain by getting out of that sinking air promptly.

Once your gauges and the seat of your pants tell you that you're back in friendlier air flow, you can adjust your speed and heading again. You know now where the trouble lies, and can devise a plan to cope with it.

Don't fight the downdrafts -- escape them.


P.S. for M. Burton - heal quickly!
 

GyrOZprey

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Thank you

Thank you

Michael for that very detailed report.

An almost identical situation with winds over a ridge and the resulting reduced ability to climb over forested "tiger-country" ended in the deaths of an Aussie CFI & his passenger in an MTO3 a year ago in Victoria Australia.

I can see a great need for a new forum ( @ ROTR's ???? / Mentone ... with some discussion & reviews of special tactics / training for flying gyros in mountain terrain!!!)

As we get more of the cross country capable machines flying especially in the western "mountain" states... this advanced pilot training will be sorely needed!

Great appreciation for the courage to relate your accident here ... there is also a VERY GOOD thread on the NEW PRA forum .... that encourages an open sharing of accidents incidents & near-misses & other general stuff-ups (Stupid human tricks) ... in our aviation adventures. I'd love to see you post this event & your musings about it ... over there! We are encouraging a nice friendly - non critical learning environment there ... unlike the boot-kicking that often seems to go on here!

Glad you will heal in time ... hope for as speedy & complete recovery as possible ... & congratulations for executing a survivable landing in horrible terrain! :hail:
 
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cwakamatsu

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God bless you my friend! I know He already has, and will continue to do so!
 

Fly Army

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Looks like Josh's prayer worked ! Get better soon Mike.
 

ventana7

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Mike so glad you are going to heal without surgery and thanks for your accurate report here.

As a regular mountain flyer in both FW and my gyro I'll offer the following: WaspAir's advice is spot on- fly out of the sinking air even if it means increasing your airspeed and therefore losing altitude.
WaspAir's above advice is only one of about 20 or 30 very specific techniques for mountain flying. I won't go into the others in a post here, but I will repeat something I posted earlier.

Take a mountain flying course. Gyros are very limited in the mountains and due to their very slow speeds and limited margins at altitude a mountain flying course is best taken in a fixed wing EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT A FW PILOT. You already know how to handle a gyro and nearly all of the mountain flying techniques you want to learn translate from one to the other.

If you are serious about flying in the mountains call a FW flight school in Denver or anywhere in the rockies and spend 1-2 days learning both the ground school knowledge and then doing actual flying.

Every year hundreds of FW pilots from low altitudes fly their planes out to Colorado on ski trips and many stop in Denver for a day or two, get training and then continue on their way into the mountains. It could even qualify as a BFR.

Rob
 

BEN S

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I feel ya Mike, its amazing to me how fast a trained,competent and knowledgeable pilot can turn a beautiful flying machine into a pile of scrap metal....
It sucks, but you walked away, and only the pilots who have never crashed believe they are better pilots. Those of us who have know we are.
Feel better.
 

j bird

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:angel: Mike and Josh, I'm so "Happy" this incident turned out the way it did.
 

The Guv'na

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There was no "box Canyon" Yes I should have taken my exit route earlier. Sometimes things change quickly. I do not excuse my accident. I should have turned out early or even better turned right at the ridge as it descends in that direction.
Thank you for sharing your story. Someday all the reflection and discussion here will probably help save someone's life and aircraft. I wish you a speedy recovery.
 

All_In

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Wow sounds like a miracle landing to me!!!

We were all so relieved when we heard you were alive!!!

Had all of us scared!!

Thank you for the accident report it will help teach mountain flying!!

And Jon that was the most precise description I heard! This is EXCELLENT advice my friends! Wind and sea act much the same with rip-tides!! To get out of both as quickly as possible you swim 90 degrees to the current. In the mountains you turn as much as you can 90 degrees but always turn following a descending slope or valley. The secret really is get out of the sinking air mass or current as soon as you can.
 
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