Gyro Down in Mesa County Colorado

All_In

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Jon I'd like to save your post and share the advice forever on PRA 'Accidence, Equipment, and Human failures' website!!
 
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StanFoster

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Michael- Glad you were minimally hurt. Love your request for a prayer.
 

ckurz7000

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Hi Mike, it is a great relief to know you're on the mend with nothing permanent damaged.

I fly in the Austrian Alps quite a bit and have been in similar situations as you described. Jon's advice is accurate and life saving in that case. Not to sound as a know-it-all but to summarize information for the general reader:

1) Always give yourself a wide altitude margin when approaching a ridge. 500 feet above the ridge line is already cutting it close. You want to be at least that much above the ridge when you get there. 500 feet of margin at a 1500 fpm forced descent will be eaten up in 20 seconds if you do nothing.

2) Know which way the wind is blowing. This determines whether you will encounter sink before or after crossing the ridge line. No matter what, though, you WILL encounter sink. Count on it and be prepared to take immediate action.

3) If you are approaching from lee, get as high up as possible and accelerate to rough air speed, something around 120 km/h in a Cavalon, I guess. If you sstart to see a lot of sink, you need to determine if you are going to clear the ridge line or not. Actually, if you have to think about this, assume you are not and turn back away from the ridge, toward sinking terrain. Once out of the sink, start your climb again, climb up higher than before and try to cross at a different point, if possible. It also helps to cross the ridge not at right angles but more at a 45 degree angle. This will not have you flying in "bad" air as long and gives you less of a turn if you need to abandon.

4) Approaching from upwind, you have an easier time at first. Don't get suckered in, though, and give yourself just as much safety margin as in the other case, because it just means you'll meet sinking air after the crossing. When you do, accelerate to rough air speed, turn 45 degrees toward sinking terrain and fly out of it.

greetings, -- Chris.
 

Monarchist

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Michael,

We all make mistakes, no one who has flown for any length of time can honestly say otherwise.

Thank you for sharing the details and ending the speculation.

We're all damn glad you're both ok.

Thanks also for making me glad I bought the 914, as I'm planning a flight from TX to CA in the spring. (After I get a var. pitch prop!)

-John
 

MichaelBurton

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I wish you a full and speedy recovery.
Marion

Looking forward to many more flights. Thanks for the well wishes. I hope to see you at KBFF in the fall. My biggest challenge at the moment is the inability to fly.

The docs say at least 120 days. I hope they are wrong.
 

eddie

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The fracture should heal within 8 weeks. its the nerve damage that takes time.

Hopefully it will be a fast and complete recovery process,at least you will fly again.

best regards,eddie.....
 

phantom

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great job on turning a bad situation into a better one, the thing I wonder about is how would you get your gyro out of a place like that? I have had to bring a few of my machines home on a komitic over the years but the worse was only about 1200 feet asl and while not easy riding a snomobile could make the trip.
I wish you a speedy and complete recovery.
Norm
 

Steve McGowan

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Ya Thank.? ... I Know!!!

Ya Thank.? ... I Know!!!

Sometimes following the FAR's to fill in the blanks with Nite Flight currency is Required..
From someone that's had to Comply with such requirements with a Student and gone down as well...
The Ole Saying....."Been There..Done That" isn't Bragg but Fact..

The Gyro was messed up a Lil Bit,, As Mine Was.. But the machine did its Job... It Saved the Both of you from Certain Death..IT WAS Sacrificed and can be Rebuilt....
YOU DONE GOOD Michael....That's All That Counts....
Because YOU're Reaction is What Saved Ya,,,,,

And Ya Can't Learn TO DO THAT ,,,,,,in Just a Few Hours...
 
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Monarchist

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And Ya Can't Learn TO DO THAT ,,,,,,in Just a Few Hours...
Steve, that's what I wish the newcomers to the sport would really understand...even those who come from other areas of aviation. Gyros are a different animal. Get training, and practice your ass off. I'm still learning, every time I fly. And I fly almost every day.

-John
 

PeterDaly

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This will be my first post on the forum and I am very glad it is to express joy for Mike and Josh’s survival. With my interest in gyros going into full bloom only a month ago, (I had been looking at trikes prior), I have the privilage of having access to a wealth of information from this and other forums as well as the internet. Like many who are new to something, I gravitated to a couple of enthusiasts. There are many on this forum that I enjoy reading and learning from, but two people that helped to drive my excitement for gyrocopters were Mark Shook, formally of PRA 38, and you and your youtube videos, Mike. And If I succeed, I will never forget and always be grateful for what you have given.

Disclaimer: Being new, I could be wrong about all my impressions.
Mark Shook struck me as someone who cared deeply about the sport and cared about the success and enjoyment of others in the sport. I enjoyed the articles and posts which I read. Also, being new, hours are spent searching for "how do I do this” not just cool flying videos. Your videos, Mike, made me believe I could do this. (It helps that you don’t yell at your students.)

I am not sure what day it was, but I was looking at the pictures on the PRA38.org home page in detail and I noticed Mark Shook was listed as deceased from an accident in 2014. This was a little devastating because I figured, living in Colorado I would probably get to meet him and hopefully get to know him though 38 as I get further along, (not to mention the sadness of hearing of a loss of life). That same day I came across this post of your accident. First thoughts were, thank God they are alive. Then the usual questions, “what happened”, “will he be able to fly again”, “will he want to fly again”, etc… Then my thoughts became more selfish, “what does this mean for me”, “should I not pursue gyros”, “I have zilch hours, how can I expect to fly in Colorado?"…. I even toyed with the thought of moving to a much lower altitude :) . What a bummer day that was. Honestly, today, reading your post knowing you and Josh will recover was great, and knowing you are going to get back on the horse is probably a boost for all.

For me, this has led me to really look into what mountain flying is all about. I figured I would take lessons specific to high altitude and mountain flying, but in my ignorance, I was not aware of all the things involved, from how rotors, props and engines perform, to how a pilot should perform. I did decide I don’t want to shy away from the mountains, but learn to respect and fly right in them (train and practice out the wahzoo). I would say master flying in the mountains, but I am sure I would get flamed by those who know, anything can happen to anyone at anytime. I agree.

As a newcomer, I hope experiences like this will help drive more focused discussions and information in all areas on high altitued and mountain flying. I am blessed that many people have paved the way this far. I can’t imagine what will be available for my grandson.

Mike, I may be a stranger, but I am overjoyed you made it. Oh, and how was the search and rescue snow mobile ride? Oh and the helicopter ride?

peter
 

Steve_UK

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Update - NTSB published the Probable Cause on 10th March as follows



NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot stated that during a flight to the destination airport, the gyrocopter was in a slow climb at about 60 knots due to higher terrain that he knew was approaching along the route. As the gyrocopter approached a ridge, the pilot noticed that more altitude was needed, so he turned left of course along the ridge while continuing the climb, expecting to turn right at an area that he saw had lower terrain. The pilot said that things were still going well, but the climb rate had decreased somewhat. As the gyrocopter approached the area of lower terrain, the gyrocopter started to descend quickly with a best rate of climb speed of 52 knots. The gyrocopter descended lower than the surrounding trees and "brushed" the tree tops, tipping the gyrocopter forward and to the right. The pilot saw a small clearing and applied corrective control input to maintain an upright attitude of the gyrocopter and to reach the clearing. Just before entering the clearing, the gyrocopter contacted oak brush with its rotor blades, which sustained substantial damage. The gyrocopter landed in the clearing and slid with minimal forward speed to a stop. The aircraft fuselage had a fractured nose and collapsed nose gear. The pilot sustained serious injuries and the passenger sustained minor injuries. The pilot stated that if he had turned right at the approach of the ridge where the terrain was lower, he could have gone around the south end of the ridge. He said he should have expected a down draft on the lee side of the ridge and could also have executed an escape route earlier by turning away from the ridge before the area of down flowing air.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance with terrain that was along the planned route of flight.
 

fara

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Happens to the best of us. I am glad they are all alive and relatively fine.
 

NoWingsAttached

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WaspAir;n862373 said:
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.

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!
Thanks for the tip!

Hope Mike is all better by now.
 
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