Gyro down in Sebring, FL 2 fatal

gyroplanes

FAA DAR Gyropilot
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So sorry to report that a gyro crashed into the trailer park on RT 98 just west of Lake Jackson killing the two occupants and injuring one.

Very sorry to report that Chris Lord was one of the two victims. My friend in Indiana saw the story about crash on the news. I called my friend near Sebring who checked around and verified that it was Chris. My friend is devastated as he worked for Chris. Such a loss for the community. I was told the identity of the second victim, but I did not write it down.
I was told Chris left behind a wife and three children. My condolences to those that knew and loved him.
 

loftus

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So sad; Chris was a true gentleman, probably the nicest guy I met in the gyro community. He did my gyro sign off in Wauchula.
My condolences to his family.
 

loftus

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So sad; Chris was a true gentleman, probably the nicest guy I met in the gyro community. He did my gyro sign off in Wauchula.
My condolences to his family.
 

Kolibri

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How awful! Chris was my first gyro CFI, whom I met at Oshkosh years ago. On a handshake deal there, he flew out nearly 1,000 miles to train me over a weekend.
I admired how he made something of himself in a difficult industry, and with his young family in tow. My heartfelt prayers and deepest condolences to them and his colleagues.
 

Kolibri

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FORUM POSTING TIP: Ignore the "error" message after you post, and then refresh the page. Give it a minute. You'll then see your newly posted message (or thread).
 

neutrax

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Chris signed me off and helped me more in 2 hours than the CFI I had did in three weeks. Very very sad news he will be missed by many.
 

neutrax

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Chris signed me off and helped me more in 2 hours than the CFI I had did in three weeks. Very very sad news he will be missed by many.
 

Kolibri

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https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=216917

______
Below (if no forum upload error occurs) is a screenshot of Garmin Pilot map from KSEF to KDED.

(crash site at orange dot, about 9sm from KSEF)

Curiously, the flight path from KSEF Sebring to KDED Deland went over Sebring instead of avoiding it to the east.
Perhaps they wanted to do a touch-and-go at KAVO Avon Park?

Regards,
Kolibri
 

Kolibri

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Preliminary consensus so far is that it was probably a mechanical issue, given Chris's piloting experience and the CTAF distress call just minutes after take-off.

Witnesses said the aircraft was in some kind of distress before it clipped a power line then crashed into a mobile home in the Sebring Falls Retirement Subdivision.
https://www.wfla.com/news/local-news/helicopter-crashes-into-mobile-home-park-in-sebring/1562464299


One witness who posted on FB mentioned something that points to a control system failure:
I saw it and wondered what it was doing kept going around and around so sad
In the event of pitch/roll control failure (e.g., the push/pull cables) can the Cavalon trim system function as back-up control?
I haven't experience in that type, hence my question.




Regards,
Kolibri
 

Vance

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I have not read of a report of a distress call on the CTAF until now.

When I make a distress call I report my location, souls on board, my initial assessment of the problem and the expected outcome.

If Chris made a distress call on the CTAF it may be informative.

The typical failure mode of a push-pull cable is to seize so trim would not do much good if the cable seized.

If somehow the cable became disconnected or broke at the front; in my opinion it would be possible to fly a Cavilon using the pneumatic trim.

I haven’t read anything that points to a control system failure.

If I was having engine problems and felt I was near a suitable landing zone I might circle as I tried to find a way to get the engine to run correctly.

Given the intensity of the fire in my opinion it is unlikely a control system failure or engine malfunction will be identified.

Based pm what little I have read it appears to me to be an emergency landing that didn’t work out because of hitting wires.

In my experience once I have chosen a landing zone my options are reduced if I discover it is unsuitable as I get closer.

I have been training in an RAF out of Carson City and there is a mobile home park on the down wind. The wires are very hard to see and the poles difficult to identify in the ground clutter.

I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend and would be pleased if more is learned in the investigation.

It is hard on my wife not knowing what happened or why it wouldn’t happen to me. It doesn’t help when I point out that it could happen to me.
 

Zzorse

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An eyewitness reported this:

Paul Federico watched it unfold from about a half mile away while he was driving on US 27.

“It's a completely helpless feeling, because you know there's nothing you can do to affect the outcome,” Federico said.

He explained that he saw the aircraft do a nosedive from about 200 feet.

“One or two heartbeats later, you've got that really, really ugly black cloud,” he said.


The audio in the video is painful to listen to,

https://www.wtsp.com/article/news/local/highlandscounty/witness-describes-the-moment-gyroplane-crashed-in-sebring-killing-2-people/67-610111962
 

Kolibri

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The audio I listened to had two Mayday calls separated by about 12 seconds, during which was power modulation.
This portion was present in the Channel 10 news link that Zzorse posted above.

After the second
"Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!" Lord says "Gyro--" and then a portion of the transmission was apparently redacted (probably the tail #),

After that redaction, at 12 seconds Lord seemed to say "...back, lean back! " and then about 1 second of redaction, followed by a grunting expletive at 17 seconds.

Then there is about 3 seconds of apparently more redaction, followed by about 2 seconds of indistinguishable voice which did not sound to me like Chris.

Then, about 4 seconds of silence followed by the tower's
"Where was that gyro that was reporting, uh, Mayday? "

______
Since the engine was heard in the audio, and also by local witnesses, that leaves a control or rotor system failure.

Had it been a control system failure (e.g., push/pull cables) a functioning pitch trim should have been able to compensate.

The nosedive at 200 AGL makes me wonder if N198LT didn't experience runaway nose-down pitch.

For example (and this I'm only speculating out loud here), if the
"Pneumatic cylinder brake/trim" somehow malfunctioned and went to "Brake" in flight,
the rotorhead would have been pitched forward, while simultaneously engaging the ring gear brake (decaying rotor RPM).

It seems unlikely that stick forces even by both occupants could have overcome such, but others here may have a better opinion on that.
This is only one scenario, and something else could have been the cause.

The impact and fire damage to the parts will make investigation very difficult, and I wouldn't expect any imminent conclusions by the NTSB.

Meanwhile, we must learn what lessons and caveats we can and bear on.

If there is some way to help the Lord and Brugger families through a donation fund, please post the link/details in this thread.

Regards,
Kolibri
 

Kolibri

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From GoogleMaps I've pinpointed the exact mobile home of the crash site.
Only 100 yds away was a clearing in the trailer park, and Lake Jackson was just 300 yds to the east.
This convinces me that the Cavalon completely lost directional control, else Chris could have reached such nearby unpopulated ground.

A power pole just east of the mobile home was hit, which seems to suggest a somewhat western trajectory.

One witness who lives 1.25 miles south reported seeing the gyro
"kept going around and around".
That, in conjunction with a closer witness only a half mile away on Hwy. 27 who described a "nosedive from about 200 feet "
seems to portray something looking like a graveyard spiral and then fast vertical fall.

The cockpit audio clearly indicates that they were already involuntarily nosed over for much of the Mayday call.

Something mechanical failed catastrophically up there, and apparently at somewhere around 1000-1500' AGL given the duration of the emergency.

I hope that the NTSB will very carefully examine all the control system parts, especially the push/pull cables and the pneumatic trim cylinders.

Regards,
Kolibri
 

Vance

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I feel the Piloting Technique/Accident Discussions would be a better place for speculations rather than in News. Someone has already started a thread about this accident there.
 
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