Hawley, MN - Fatal - AR-1 - 11th July 2019

C. Beaty

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When a gyro smacks the ground nose first at high speed, it’s irrelevant what the tank is made from.

From the news photos, the fuel splatter shows up as burn streaks in the grass.
 

fara

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There are more pictures than what you have probably seen and yes the damage is substantial from the impact indicating a very hard hit so gas tanks at that point not holding up is a moot point. But everything including blades, rotorhead with hub bar connected to it, control rods connected to it, even the two bags under front seat, front fork sheared off completely and separate and all other components are in the same debris field. The rudder is on the ground separated from impact but did not catch fire and has no marks from the rotor hitting it at all.
 

Vance

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From the NTSB preliminary accident report:
On July 11, 2019, about 1230 central daylight time, a Gibb AR-1, N14968, impacted terrain 300 ft from, and slightly to the right of, the departure end of runway 16 at the Hawley Municipal Airport (04Y), Hawley, Minnesota. The private pilot was fatally injured. The gyroplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-impact fire. The gyroplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the accident site at the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight originated from 04Y at an undetermined time. A passerby driving eastbound on Highway 10 just south of the runway saw the gyroplane descend nose down and impact the ground. A fire erupted immediately. The passerby stopped, ran to the accident site, and pulled the pilot from the burning wreckage. The passerby sustained serious burns to his hands. The on-scene investigation revealed the gyroplane struck the ground on a magnetic heading of 175°. There was a 30-ft ground scar from the impact point to the main body of wreckage. All of the wreckage was contained within a 50-ft perimeter. All components were accounted for, including both main rotor blades, the engine, and all 3 blades of the pusher-type propeller. The airspeed and vertical speed indicators registered 110 mph and 910 fpm down, respectively. The altimeter and Kollsman window registered 1,580 ft and 30.08 inches of mercury, respectively.

The Hawley Municipal Airport is at an elevation of 1,210 feet MSL.
 
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fara

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I have been able to look at some 50+ high resolution photographs of the whole debris field on my laptop. The debris field contains all the elements. Shows a clear 30 foot long skid mark. Shows the canopy frame metal part is round and intact and upright and with the main frame of the gyroplane and shows the rotors bent in direction that suggest upright hit. Nose wheel hit first clearly. Rudder was thrown to the side and has no damage from rotor, not even paint is off. Eyewitness simply saw it nose down and gain speed all the way down till the hit. No in-flight breakup is indicated and everything is within 50 or so foot debris field. I do not have permission to share the photographs. But this pretty much is the analysis so far that seems to be in line with NTSB preliminary report it seems as well
 

fara

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Any indication on why it went nose down into the ground?
If you interpret this as it went vertically down nose first, that is not what happened just to clarify. It went down at a steep angle at high speed with forward and downward velocity. There is no crater but a skid and fuel mark of 30 feet. The start of the hit shows may be 6” deep mark and front wheel and the rudder seem to be to the sides in that area.

As to why would be speculative but NTSB investigator has confirmed to me that it was right side up in a steep dive, witness saw no attempted recovery and nothing was broken on it in the air. Impact damage is all that is seen and that’s what the witness saw. The same witness also pulled him out after the fire and received burns on his hands doing it. He also confirmed that an autopsy will be done. Can’t speculate on anything else besides the facts confirmed to me so far

These are things we know for sure. I was interested in investigator and eye witness confirming to me that the aircraft did not come apart in the air so I asked that question and the emphatic short written answer from NTSB back was No, it did’nt. This I asked directly in the interest of safety for the rest of the fleet and I am sure they answered it so directly knowing why I asked that.
 
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