I Learned about flying from that...

Rotormouse

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2005
Messages
114
Location
Cornwall, UK
Aircraft
G-BVDJ Cricket gyro
Total Flight Time
112 hrs fixed-wing, 200+ gyro, & too many to remember on gyro-glider
A British aviation magazine used to run a regular feature called ‘I Learned About Flying From That’ in which pilots submitted articles relating to lessons learned from various incidents.

We frequently see recurring threads along the lines of why the gyroplane accident rate is so high and how can we improve training etc, which inevitably go round and round the same track with different participants until fizzling out for another year or so. Little gets resolved and we all carry on as before.

I’ve already expressed my views on training, but training can only achieve so much, there's no such thing as foolproof. Success or failure has as much to do with the attitude of the newly qualified pilot as it does to the quality/quantity of instruction they received. And a good portion of luck. Any Health and Safety briefing can highlight a chain of events that will lead to an accident if a link isn’t broken somewhere along the line.

I have low self-confidence in general, which makes me a cautious pilot. Despite that, I could have been a statistic several times over – either by my own fault, or circumstances that were out of my hands. I’m also a bad risk. I fly 10-20 hours a year, if I’m lucky. My 582 stands idle from October to May (probably longer with this cursed virus) and two-strokes don’t like that kind of treatment. I’m well aware of my limitations, fly accordingly and do the best I can with what I’ve got, thanks to the help of those I greatly respect. Gravity has no respect for anyone. I may yet become a statistic.

Sadly there are too many accident reports to pick apart, but there are many more near misses that never see the light of day because for whatever reason, thankfully the accident didn’t happen. So I offer a few of my own lucky escapes to highlight what can go wrong, and I encourage others to do the same. – ‘fess up – we’ve all been there! Perhaps it’ll help others to think twice, or flag up warning signs for situations that may develop for them in the future. As the saying goes: learn from the mistakes of others, you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

All of my training mistakes are well covered in Short Hops, except one incident that was beyond my control. It was a very near miss as a student on a navigation exercise. A twin-engine Dash 8 inbound to St. Mawgan, skimmed the top off the Bodmin zone. Luckily the only traffic in the normally busy Bodmin circuit was one tiny gyroplane and its rookie occupant. Something flickered in my peripheral vision and glancing back over my right shoulder, I was startled to see the distinctive T-tail of a large turbo-prop crossing behind at an acute angle that was rather too close for comfort. It’s one of those snapshot moments that remain fixed in the mind. We were at the same level: a few seconds earlier and that angle would have converged. They weren’t on frequency, we never saw each other, it didn’t even twitch. Imagine the carnage had they run me down. And where would the finger have pointed: a low-time student in one of those dangerous do-it-yourself gyroplanes, or a couple of professional airline pilots on a routine service? No amount of training could have helped me there.
 

Rotormouse

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2005
Messages
114
Location
Cornwall, UK
Aircraft
G-BVDJ Cricket gyro
Total Flight Time
112 hrs fixed-wing, 200+ gyro, & too many to remember on gyro-glider
Here’s a classic chain of events from 2007 that went horribly wrong, but the end result could have been far worse.

We were booked to fly into Yeovilton Airday as a flight of six gyroplanes, and had been allocated the call sign Gyro flight. I had problems with my Icom, through which I could receive quite clearly but wasn’t able to transmit back. However, I was assured that we’d be flying as a group and only one aircraft would handle communications to cut down on radio traffic.

Up early at nearby Henstridge airfield to prepare the machines in what we thought was good time, it was announced that instead of the expected group take-off, we were to go at delayed intervals and join up to the north west ready for our slot time. We had to get moving right away to be in a holding pattern, as the Red Arrows were due to arrive just behind us. Eeek! The four two-seat machines (RAF 2000s and an MT) went ahead and took off in relays, leaving our two singles to fly as a pair, the newly qualified pilot of the other Cricket (I’ll call Mickey Mouse) handling the radio for both of us until we rejoined the group. But on reaching the holding point it was clear that Henstridge radio wasn’t receiving his transmissions, and making repeated attempts to contact him. I tried a call on frequency but was told it was ‘carrier wave only’ and the controller requested quite urgently that I prevent Mickey (who had already back-tracked and lined up on the runway) from taking off.

After managing to round him up, we shut down by the ops room to investigate and Mickey discovered a loose PTT plug, which he duly tightened. The airfield manager came out with a mobile phone having contacted Yeovilton ATC on our behalf, and Mickey spoke to them explaining that we had become separated from the rest of our group, and asked for a later slot. The Gyro flight was in a holding pattern on the edge of the MATZ, and we were given permission to catch up. Scrambling back onboard, Mickey made a clear strength 5 transmission to Henstridge radio as we taxied to the threshold for take-off.

In the air we tracked north west as previously agreed, and Mickey contacted Yeovilton LARS who told him that the rest of the flight were holding in our 3 o’clock position. Visibility was good but neither of us could spot them (we were searching for a flight of four, but afterwards found out that two machines had gone on ahead, having also failed to meet up). I heard Yeovilton call Mickey, asking for POB and although his reply was muffled, I heard him say ‘One on board’ but didn’t tell them that we were a flight of two. It took a minute or so to catch up and get into position close enough for him to understand my signals that he needed to tell them he was transmitting for two aircraft, not one. This had taken us well inside the MATZ by now.

Mickey radioed Yeovilton to inform them of our second aircraft, and that we couldn’t find the rest of our group. He was asked if we wanted a straight-in approach for r/w 27, and told to contact the tower, which he did. We were now north of the active and very close to the airfield boundary. I could read the numbers in front of us on r/w 22, which Mickey continued to head for. I stayed at 900 feet, closely monitoring two helicopters operating pleasure flights down to our right. The tower came back on frequency to make us number two after the aircraft on final for 27. I followed Mickey in a left-hand turn, tracking south along the boundary at right angles to the active, hearing him confirm contact with the landing aircraft. We were far too close to the perimeter: I was sure that ATC didn’t know where we were and felt very stressed about our position, unable to do anything about it.

I deliberately stayed above 600 feet as we turned onto 270, thinking that light aircraft generally turn base leg at 500 feet and much further out. I couldn’t see any traffic approaching as we took up the correct heading at last, but heard another aircraft call final maybe 10 seconds after we lined up. Mickey was ahead of me and about 200 feet lower, well into his approach. I was searching for the other aircraft that had called, and aimed my machine to the right of the centre line as a precaution, although we had been allotted number two to the aircraft that had just landed. A matter of seconds later, I saw the large shadow of a fixed-wing moving over the ground to my right and closing from behind. I quickly checked around and found myself staring down into the cockpit of a silver Chipmunk, passing barely 100 feet below my left axle. I immediately applied power to stop the descent and slid further to the right to keep the Chipmunk in view, slowing to gain separation before continuing in to land behind him. I heard the pilot call that a gyroplane (Mickey) had landed directly in front of him. Neither pilot had seen the other: The Chipmunk pilot hadn’t seen me and it was only thanks to the shadow that I saw him in time.

Quite rightly, a pair of very sorry gyronauts were hauled up to the tower and given a serious dressing down.

So where did we go wrong…

It was a typical build up of errors, and a minimal difference in timings or altitude could have resulted in a very nasty incident. Personally, I was wrong to rely on others so much, already being unsettled by the sudden rush to meet our slot time, and genuinely scared of infringing the Red Arrows arrival. Being unfamiliar with the area (an area that would shortly be hosting a major air show!) I had expected instructions to be a little more specific than a general ‘head north west,’ and shouldn’t have trusted that we would all form up as planned. Matters weren’t helped by the flight being split for departure, and further compounded by the radio failure. Despite Mickey’s assurances that he’d fixed it, I was very concerned about further trouble as we had no back up in the event of another communication failure – in controlled airspace. We should have ended it there and not taken off from Henstridge.

Mickey was confident having flown into Yeovilton twice before: he knew the area (he said) and had a GPS, but was distracted looking for the rest of our group, and (as I found out later) experiencing radio difficulties again. A further distraction was to alert ATC to the presence of two gyroplanes when they were expecting only one. We were aviating, barely navigating, and loosely communicating. We should’ve been better prepared before take-off and divided tasks between us – one to navigate, one to handle radio etc. There was no contingency plan to cover being separated from the main flight and we couldn’t discuss options with each other in the air.

At one point we seemed to be lining up for r/w 22. I was totally convinced that Mickey was going to land and very worried that I couldn’t call him or catch up with him in time. In hindsight, maybe it would’ve been the lesser of two evils for me to have turned back and got out of there. My gyro was under full control and I could navigate and maintain my own separation, but at the time I was seriously worried about being adrift in controlled airspace with an air display imminent and no way of talking to anyone.

We were far too close to the airfield and badly positioned to fit in with the fixed-wing traffic. Having got that far into trouble, Mickey should have confirmed our position with ATC, who clearly weren’t expecting us to join from the north on the airfield boundary. I didn’t hear any further instruction after they made us number two to the aircraft that Mickey saw land ahead of us. The Chipmunk pilot was making a normal approach and had no reason to suspect that anyone was either above or below him.

So, we were far too casual in our preparation and execution of what should have been a straightforward local flight. The icing on the cake came after we landed back at Henstridge that evening, when I discovered that Mickey didn’t have an RT licence, and professed to not know that it was a legal requirement. It wasn’t our finest hour.
 

Resasi

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If it was the day that Tony and Viv were also in that group Shirley, I gather that it was a most eventful day for a number of participants...and certainly not a ‘shining hour’ for the gyro representatives.:(
 

Rotormouse

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2005
Messages
114
Location
Cornwall, UK
Aircraft
G-BVDJ Cricket gyro
Total Flight Time
112 hrs fixed-wing, 200+ gyro, & too many to remember on gyro-glider
If it was the day that Tony and Viv were also in that group Shirley, I gather that it was a most eventful day for a number of participants...and certainly not a ‘shining hour’ for the gyro representatives.:(
When we discovered that introducing an RAF rotor blade to an MT’s propeller doesn’t do either of them any good? Yep, that was the one! We really excelled ourselves that day...
 

Rotormouse

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2005
Messages
114
Location
Cornwall, UK
Aircraft
G-BVDJ Cricket gyro
Total Flight Time
112 hrs fixed-wing, 200+ gyro, & too many to remember on gyro-glider
My flying opportunities are very limited so confidence levels diminish accordingly with lack of hours. I prefer a decent bit of altitude beneath us as a few extra seconds of safety margin, compensation for my lack of practice should anything untoward occur. Although several single-seaters at the field also wear 582s, they sport unique configurations able to accommodate much larger propellers and rotor blades. My gyro having had to conform to British regulations, only has room to wear a petite 52 inch propeller, which coupled with our lightweight 22 foot rotors cannot hope to match the performance of the French. Consequently they don’t understand my reluctance to fly in the high temperature and zero wind conditions that persist from late May onwards – we just don’t have the same oomph! On squadron fly-outs, the others casually breeze past leaving us to flounder in their wake, the poor engine screaming in protest, temperature gauge nudging the red as we struggle for a morsel of lift. So yes, I’m wary. I learnt my lesson the hard way.

A couple of years ago we had a narrow squeak that was the closest I’ve yet come to a forced landing. It was the last weekend before packing my gyro away for the summer, and the day was a real scorcher. We waited patiently in the shade of the hangar, my Delta-J and me, willing the temperature to drop as evening approached so that we too might partake of some autorotation. My squadron mates continually stirred the air, happily flying their socks off and clearly puzzled as to why I wasn’t indulging with them. By 20:00 the mercury held fast at 28 degrees and the windsock hung limp from its pole, dead to the world. Things weren’t going to improve before dark. Still, the others had flown all afternoon with no apparent problem, let’s see what we can do. Foolish child that I was.

I really don’t like using the pre-rotator so much. A few brief nudges just to get the blades turning a bit first, but even at low revs there’s a dreadful snatch as the drive shaft engages. The whole rotor head twists in shock and the push rods vibrate horribly, transmitting their convulsions through the control stick, it knocks hell out of the poor machine. But on a hot day with no wind, brute force is what it takes to rouse a lazy pair of Dragon Wings. They’ve shown a whole different side to their personality in France. On the Cornish peninsula surrounded by cooling ocean there’s rarely a day without a whisper of breeze, and even in summer temperatures seldom exceed the mid twenties so there’s always a nice bit of lift to play with. Now it’s a whole new ball game!

Taking off from grass with 6-inch wheels and no suspension doesn’t do either of us any good – we get hammered – and it’s all too easy to set Dragon Wings flapping. Erring on the cautious side I tend to take a longer run than we actually need, just to ensure that the battering we’re taking is purely down to terra firma, and not the rotors kicking off. It’s the lesser of two evils. Honest, it’s like being perched on a jack-hammer, and that’s on a good day. So we finally struggled into the air with a very muted performance as expected, having used half the runway to unstick, and clawed our way up to 1100 feet over the next fifteen minutes, finding the odd patch of lift here and there. Not surprisingly our usual 5000 rpm cruise wasn’t enough to maintain altitude and I had to run the engine harder than normal, but things were a little more comfortable aloft. Apart from the sluggish conditions it was a perfect evening with great visibility.

We lingered over the western side for a while then headed out over the flat plain, idly tracking the course of the river before making towards the eastern hills. But something wasn’t right as we neared the grassy slopes rising up to meet us. I sensed a curious change in the rotors, different to that usually experienced when approaching the higher ground, although everything appeared to be running normally. It just didn’t feel right. This was somewhat disconcerting! A thick haze now squatted heavily on the horizon, and smudges of smoke from distant fires hung motionless over the landscape, barely dissipating. The air felt very flat with no lift to speak of. I made an executive decision to cut short our excursion and head for home.

Dropping off the edge of the hills to slide back over the plain as we have done so many times before, I could feel the lift evaporating from the rotor disc and nudged on the power to compensate as the altimeter began to unwind. It often happens around that area so I wasn’t too concerned, expecting things to pick up again as they usually do once over the motorway – only this time it didn’t. Already running at 5600 revs, I threw in another 200 for good measure with no discernible improvement, ramping it up to a more determined 6000 rpm as we trickled increasingly lower. Well this was novel! Normally I would turn into wind to find some lift and climb back up before proceeding, except that there wasn’t any wind. The air was completely lifeless. Tentative experiments to raise the nose and reduce speed only increased the rate of sink. I could see the airfield ahead, teasing, painfully creeping closer as I tried to stretch our descent. It was going to be tight.

Full throttle now: the poor engine roared its heart out at maximum revs with nothing left to give, but the altimeter continued to unwind. Somehow at 85 mph, nose down in mid-air, we were caught on the back of the power curve. It was amazing, there was not a single molecule of lift for the rotors to get hold of! It felt very uncomfortable with such a tenuous grip on the air, as if the rotors were slipping through olive oil. I’ve never known anything like it. Any further away and we would’ve had to force land because she was coming down and there was not a thing that I could do about it. There are plenty of good fields available for just such an emergency, so it wouldn’t have been a problem to put down safely, I was just bewildered by the total lack of lift.

As it was, we scraped back to the aerodrome for a straight in approach with nothing left in the bank for a go-around. Clearing the trees over the threshold, I throttled back a little and she dropped like a stone. Happily the engine didn’t miss a beat and caught us in time, else it would’ve been a heavy arrival and probably not without damage. My guardian spirits are awesome. So it was quite an eye-opener to say the least, and I don’t know what else I could have done to stay airborne. Now if we venture up on a hot day with light winds, I make sure to stay downwind of the airfield and not stray too far, so we can pick up some lift (theoretically) on our return. It’s really not a good feeling when your rotor blades have nothing to bite.
 

Doug Riley

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Jan 11, 2004
Messages
6,450
Shirley, have you explored your gyro's whole airspeed range to find your best rate-of-climb airspeed? Then dialed in prop pitch to give you full RPM (but not over redline) at full throttle at that airspeed?

Best rate in an open gyro is often surprisingly slow -- 40 mph being typical. This airspeed is ridiculously slow from the rotor blade tip speed viewpoint (i.e. the blades would be more efficient at twice that airspeed). The parasite drag of an open frame is so huge, however, that reducing it is better for overall efficiency than making the rotor happy. The total-drag curve of an open-frame gyro practically goes vertical as you get past about 60 mph -- even though the drag of the rotor alone actually goes down as you go faster.

Yes, a mere 52" prop diameter is a crime on a redrive engine. It's more appropriate for a 3800 RPM direct-drive engine; in the last century, I used a 52" prop on my direct-drive VW.

If your prerotator has the typical metal drive drum and rubber driven wheel, it should be able to slip quite gently if you apply only finger pressure to the handle. You might even back that off a bit once the Bendix engages (again I'm assuming "conventional" construction details). If it still grabs however gently you engage it, perhaps the metal drive wheel is a bit rougher than it needs to be. If you see the pushrods trembling hard. again slip it a bit or ease back the power. The retraction springs on the lower end must not be so robust that you can't employ such finesse!

I had experiences similar to yours on hot, humid days back when I flew an Air Command with a 447 engine. It was essentially a noisy sailplane.
 

Rotormouse

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2005
Messages
114
Location
Cornwall, UK
Aircraft
G-BVDJ Cricket gyro
Total Flight Time
112 hrs fixed-wing, 200+ gyro, & too many to remember on gyro-glider
Hi Doug

Crickets (basically a tweaked Bensen) seem to do most things best at 50—55 mph, although this is purely based on the specs of the original VW powered Campbell Cricket, and how I was trained. Depending on conditions, I fly approach at 50 mph, but climb out at 55 mph as I don’t like to get too nose high in case of sudden silence. Generally, I adjust airspeed until it feels right – I’m not the slightest bit technical!

Having seen what’s possible outside of UK regulations, you’re right: a 52 inch on a 582 is a terrible waste of power – we’ve been left standing by 503’s running slow with a big two-blader. My 4 blade prop is pitched for 6500 max rpm at full throttle, but what speed I don’t know. I very rarely need more than 5800 rpm, but that day was one of them!

The E box doesn’t leave much clearance between prop, keel and tail, and although the stab has improved handling enormously, I think there must be a detrimental effect thrust-wise, although on cooler/windier days it can be a struggle to get her down. Unfortunately there’s never enough time to experiment properly, so although she’s the best she’s ever been, it’s all a bit of compromise. If I had the time and money…!

Yes it’s a Wunderlich, and what you describe is exactly how I do it. But even when the Bendix is engaged and powering up, the vibration is awful. I took the drive off before leaving in October, and my friends have very kindly been doing some modification to the prop end drive, which hopefully will be an improvement. It’s still a lot of dead weight to drag around once airborne.
 

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Rotormouse

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2005
Messages
114
Location
Cornwall, UK
Aircraft
G-BVDJ Cricket gyro
Total Flight Time
112 hrs fixed-wing, 200+ gyro, & too many to remember on gyro-glider
I had been ‘volunteered’ to do a turn at a local country show. I really don’t like doing that kind of thing, but was put on the spot and they were so keen to have a gyroplane exhibit that I very reluctantly agreed to take Delta-J to the fair – and make an exhibition of ourselves. A farmer offered the use of a large field down the road from the show ground, although it was as rough as rats and far from ideal, but there wasn’t a lot of choice. It also housed a herd of cows who were generous with the obstacles they left in our path, requiring some careful taxiing else it really would’ve hit the fan!

I got it very wrong the first time we used this particular field, and it was only by pure luck that we didn’t go home in a wheelbarrow. Something had gone awry with the program timings and I was asked to fly an hour earlier than expected. That didn’t leave me much time to trailer down to the field, negotiate the gate, unload, pre-flight and pick out a take-off run, but I agreed to do the best I could so as not to disrupt their revised schedule. What I should have done was to explain that it wasn’t simply a case of a minute’s drive down the road, drop her off the trailer and fly – we needed time to prepare safely which couldn’t be rushed. What I should have said was sorry, but no can do.

Having got Delta-J set up ready in the cows’ field, I was very conscious of time ticking away as I planned our take off path into what little wind there was, which thankfully took us away from where the herd was grazing. The rough grass ranged from thick tufty clumps to tall stringy stalks and marsh reeds sprouting from a churned up mass of hoof prints, interspersed with a minefield of ripe cow pats. A moderate wind of no real use wafted lazily across the countryside, mockingly ruffling the foliage around us: a gale would’ve been more welcome. I chose an aiming point at the far side and drove my van slowly towards it, avoiding the pats as best I could. With time constraints foremost in my mind (wrong, wrong, wrong!) I stopped a little farther on from where I thought we would be airborne and walked back between the tyre tracks to check for hazards on our makeshift runway. Had I been less worried about other peoples’ time scales and more concerned for my own neck, I would’ve kept on driving and shortly discovered a hidden gully running the width of the field like a crease, dropping abruptly into a dry ditch about three feet deep.

Instead it was only by chance that I spotted it just ahead of the nose as we jolted our way painfully across the bumps and ruts, trying to achieve escape velocity. No time for rational thought, it was one of those moments when instinct takes over and you either win or lose. The stick was fully back and the nose wheel just becoming light as I caught a glimpse of the ditch that we were seconds from ploughing in to, and rammed open the throttle. Thankfully the engine roared behind me and shoved us over the drop like a kick in the pants: the rotors clutched at the air and held us as the ground fell away, wheels brushing the tips of the reeds. I kept her low over the field to build airspeed and let the rotors settle down before climbing away to safety. Curving back on ourselves gaining height, we arrived at the show on time to give them a fly-by. Everyone was delighted. Only I knew how close we’d come to disaster, and I was furious with myself.

Moral: don’t rush it.
 

Rotormouse

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2005
Messages
114
Location
Cornwall, UK
Aircraft
G-BVDJ Cricket gyro
Total Flight Time
112 hrs fixed-wing, 200+ gyro, & too many to remember on gyro-glider
Well we’ve had the cows, so here’s one with a hedge…

Gyro training in summer 1995, I was at the ‘straight and level along the runway’ stage when I had my one and only encounter with PIO. I took off as normal and lowered the nose until we were climbing at 50 mph, levelling off at 30 feet. That was where the problem started. Despite pushing forward on the stick, I couldn’t get the nose down far enough to maintain airspeed in level flight and Delta-J seemed to be dragging her tail. Coming in from a greater height than the on previous exercises, the approach speed was too slow and I was relying on power to cushion the touch down and prevent an axle bending arrival. I knew it wasn’t right but didn’t seem able to correct it. I’d already flown a couple of hours, still trying to correct the approach speed without compensating on the power. It was a hot day and a large patch of turbulence had parked itself over the intersection, right where our small group of fledglings were beginning our descents. Engrossed in coaxing our machines back to earth, we were each caught in turn and tossed back into the air like a set of juggler’s clubs.

Buzzing along 30 feet up, getting progressively more annoyed with myself for not improving, I put the stick firmly forward as we were bounced aloft and checked back on the power to set up an approach. Perfect – until a spilt second later the buoyant cushion of air spat us out and all the lift vanished. I could feel the difference at once as the rotor blades scrabbled furiously, trying to get a grip on the air. Dropping too fast, too close to the deck, I opened the throttle and we shot back into the air. The nose came up again: now we were too high and the runway was getting shorter. Throttle and stick weren’t co-ordinating anymore, I had over-corrected and the gyro began to porpoise, the oscillations accelerated with alarming speed. PIO!

No problem, I knew what to do: ease the stick back a little and slow down to let it stabilise – except we were only about 25 feet above the ground by now, and just to make it interesting, hurtling towards the hedge at the end of the runway. If I pulled back we would lose lift in the sultry air and start to sink with very little room left to recover airspeed before the hedge arrived.

A warning from my mate John popped into my head. He had started training some months before me, and had got into a situation that left him too high above the end of runway. His solution was to close the throttle. His machine lost airspeed, sinking rapidly: he had almost recovered it but landed hard and rolled over. I could hear him telling me, If you run out of room and can’t get in, for Christ’s sake don’t take the power off!
Guidance from my fixed-wing days was also to mind: you can’t make a good landing out of a bad approach. I knew I didn’t have time to stop the oscillations and settle down in the short space that was left. I was too inexperienced and had no doubt that we would end up in the hedge. I remember very clearly, rationalising the options in what must have been the briefest of seconds as we swooped and climbed with ever increasing severity towards the runway’s end.

We needed some height under us to give me time to sort this out – it had to be a go around. Opening up to 6000 rpm while easing back on the stick gave an instant response: the gyro stabilised and rocketed over the hedge, climbing easily. I hadn’t used the engine much above 4500 rpm before and was startled by the thrust of the propeller.

Chris (my mentor) was in my head, telling me to watch the downwind turn; don’t turn too low and keep the airspeed on. Not having been briefed on circuits yet, I held the climb until the altimeter showed 250 feet, and wary of getting outside the airfield boundary, turned downwind keeping parallel with the runway and steaming along at an enthusiastic 70 mph! But now I had time to take stock of the situation. My Cricket handled like a dream, just as sensitive and manoeuvrable as the gyro-glider – this was brilliant! I was sorely tempted to play, but a glance down to my right revealed a group of anxious faces staring up at us. I had to think about getting back down.

Watching for other traffic, I decided to maintain height until we were lined up over the gyro half of the runway and keep all of the descent on a steady heading with plenty of time for corrections. Delta-J turned on the proverbial sixpence, and I was thrilled with my little flying machine as we centred ourselves over the runway for a long straight in approach. Reducing some power, I put the nose down as best I could until 45mph showed on the airspeed indicator and we began to slip back towards the ground. On passing 40 feet, I nudged on a few more revs and slid back into the ‘straight and level above the runway’ position where I was supposed to have been all along – to land yet again cushioned with power, nose in the air.

Collective relief was much evident as I taxied sheepishly back to the fold, and we couldn’t help laughing as Tony feigned heart failure. I was well chuffed by the brief taste of my Cricket’s performance, but at the same time disgusted with myself for having got into PIO, and could imagine the earful I was going to get from Chris when I told him. But as it turned out, he couldn’t entirely blame me.

Before he went home, Chris had flown Delta-J and trimmed her out to where he thought the stick pressure would be right for me. Not knowing any differently, I’d accepted it without question and had been struggling along fighting to get the nose down, believing it was my own incompetence that was impeding progress. Talking things over with Tony, the answer suddenly became very clear. Chris weighed a hefty 16 stone, while I’m 8 stone wringing wet. It was Chris’s weight keeping the machine level, but being only half the size and strength I couldn’t overcome the pull of the trim springs, and was constantly pushing forward against the stick as my gyro naturally wanted to climb.

We slackened most of the tension from the trim springs, and what do you know – I wasn’t such a failure after all – merely a wimp.
 

Rotormouse

Junior Member
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Dec 22, 2005
Messages
114
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Cornwall, UK
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G-BVDJ Cricket gyro
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112 hrs fixed-wing, 200+ gyro, & too many to remember on gyro-glider
It would appear that no one else makes any mistakes. Disappointing.
Just ‘women drivers’ then..:rolleyes:
 

barongan

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giro5

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1,222
Location
Farmington, New Mexico
Aircraft
prev- citabria,AA1b, fun racer
Total Flight Time
400 GA, 50 trike
rotormouse as a new GA pilot (fixed wing not gyro's) I have had 5 incidents that come to mind. Three while training and 2 after I had several hundred hours after receiving my PPL. With just a few hours after my solo my instructor seated behind me in a Tri Champ he took the plane off and at about 100 feet in the air closed the throttle. I yelled are you flying this thing or me. He jammed the throttle and stick forward and we dropped back to the runway hard enough I was wondering if we damaged the landing gear. The instructor did not have anything to say after that except go park the plane. I was too young and naïve to react properly and he screwed up by not making it clear who was flying the plane since he was flying it for the take off.
Next on my solo cross countries the following happened. On the first one coming in for a landing at Perris airport one afternoon with lots more than usual haze due to a nearby forest fire I was lucky that I make it a habit to land on the numbers. I was about 50 feet in the air getting ready to touch down on the stripes when a water bomber flew over me and landed a few hundred feet in front of me. We both touched down at about the same time. Then on my next solo cross country coming back late one afternoon from flying to lake Havassu
flying over Palm Springs at 6K agl I could not see the city due to haze and a wind storm but I could see the 2 peaks on Banning pass plus with all the wind my trip was way long and the sun was going to set in about 30 minuets. I flew thru the pass and could see the mountains surrounding the area and decided to turn and find the Santa Ana wash ( its big and the only thing I could count on finding) then turn left and fly down it and if I came to Prado Dam ( it had a giant American flag and other things painted across it to celebrate the centennial ) then I knew where I was at and would be just a little west of Corona airport. But when I made my left turn after finding the wash I was lined up for a straight in to Flabob which was where I was going. So I landed (it was after sunset on the ground) and called my instructor and the FAA to cancel my flight plan.
 

giro5

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2006
Messages
1,222
Location
Farmington, New Mexico
Aircraft
prev- citabria,AA1b, fun racer
Total Flight Time
400 GA, 50 trike
My dumbshit flying continued: After I had several hundred hours of experience on a cross country from Fallon Nevada to Corona Ca. on my return I had to deviate my planned route ( once again due to visibility) to get out of the LA basin on my return trip. With out re doing my planning I nearly ran my AA1B out of gas. I landed in Bishop Ca and put one more gallon of gas in the plane than was supposed to be useable. I sold this plane to a fellow out in Pittsburg Ma. and flew it out there to deliver it. Flying south of Chicago O'hare at 3500 ft agl with just homes below me as far as I could see I forgot to switch fuel tanks in the AA1B and when the engine quit it took me about a microsecond to make the tank switch but all I could think about was all the houses below me and what if this baby doesn't start. But it fired right up.
Obviously these last two incidents were totally my own fault. Those on the 2 cross countries during my training yeah if I had paid attention to and respected the weather I could have chosen a better day especially with my limited experience. The incident with my instructor I don't fault my self so much.
Have I had any problems with my gyro - yes. One time while towing on a 100 ft rope I did not have any comm with my tow driver and he did not have any common sense about towing. Really felt lucky on that day that I cheated death.
 

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
16,440
Location
Nipomo,California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2400+ in rotorcraft
It would appear that no one else makes any mistakes. Disappointing.
Just ‘women drivers’ then..:rolleyes:

The importance of a good pre-flight briefing.

Some time ago I had a friend who I will refer to as Bob who lives a long way away find a way to stop by Santa Maria on a road trip.

The picture is not Bob and Bob is not his real name.

Bob had been delayed and it was very close to sunset.

Bob very much wanted to fly The Predator and I was not night current.

Bob is a high time airline transport pilot, fixed wing flight instructor and an experienced gyroplane pilot. I felt he would have more fun in the front seat.

I went through the FAA required briefing and briefly covered the operation of the controls, radio and switches.

I shared the takeoff procedure with Bob and gave him a check list.

I believe I told Bob it was easy to accidently activate the push to talk micro switch and if he did I could not talk to him and neither could the tower.

I could be mistaken because I was hurrying aviation like I tell people not to do because it is easy to forget something.

Bob did fine with the startup, lean for taxi and the radio calls.

He managed the free castering nose wheel with differential braking well as we taxied almost a mile to Alpha Eight.

The run up went well and Bob changed to tower frequency and made his request.

Tower replied: “Gyroplane 142 Mike Golf runway three zero clear for takeoff straight out approved.”

Bob acknowledged the clearance, released the rotor brake and started pre-rotating as we headed for the center line. Unfortunately he had not adjusted the mixture from lean for taxi to full rich.

The takeoff roll was a little long and we slowly climbed to about fifty feet above the ground before she began to backfire and slowly lose altitude as we headed down the runway at fifty knots of indicated airspeed.

Bob was also griping the cyclic in a way that activated the push to talk button so I could not talk to him and I suspect things not going well tightened his grip.

Tapping on his shoulder and hand waiving was not an effective way to communicate as we continued to descend using up runway.

We were both wearing helmets with active noise reduction making yelling ineffective.

This communication challenge was exacerbated because I used my right hand to show releasing the button and my left hand to show mixture because the mixture is on the left.

Bob’s years of experience kicked in and he pushed the mixture lever forward. Unfortunately in The Predator forward is lean cut off.

When the engine stopped Bob quickly figured out that back was better and off we went climbing out nicely with me still trying to get him to release the push to talk button with my right hand.

Once he released it and the tower scolded us for the stuck mic we headed out across the valley only to return shortly to do some pattern work.

We had a couple of more stuck mic episodes with some very nice stop and goes.

I was reminded once again never to hurry aviation or flight instruction.

I was reminded of the importance of a comprehensive two way preflight briefing.

I was reminded to the responsibility involved in putting someone in the front seat.

I was reminded that experience in other gyroplanes or with other aircraft may not be applicable to The Predator.

I later clocked the push to talk button so that it is harder to accidently activate on the advice of a client famed for his expertise in human factors.

None of this was new to me and I could have killed a good friend with my lapse of judgment.

I now go over hand singles as part of a preflight briefing and try to never hurry aviation.
 

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C. Beaty

Gold Supporter
Joined
Apr 16, 2004
Messages
9,988
Location
Florida
It would appear that no one else makes any mistakes. Disappointing.
Just ‘women drivers’ then..:rolleyes:
Well, Shirley, here’s something that might provide some relief to your disappointment.

I don’t remember the year but it was sometime in the 1970s; I was flying my sorta Bensen along the West Coast of Florida, skimming the waves over the Gulf of Mexico when the wire running my electric fuel pump broke and down I went.

My gyro was powered by a 90 HP Mac, a clay pigeon that had originally powered a target drone before having been shot down. One of the Mac’s many weaknesses was the original mechanical fuel pump, a standard automotive pump that was designed to run at ½ engine speed on a car but had to run at full engine speed on the Mac. Needless to say, it didn’t last long on a Mac but long enough for its intended role.

I solved that problem with a Bendix electric fuel pump, powered by a 6V motorcycle battery or so I thought. Unfortunately, the wiring was exposed to the airstream and fluttering wires often break at a soldered connection.

There’s a string of barrier islands just offshore in the part of Florida where I was flying, little more than sandbars but overgrown with sea oats and occasionally scrub palmettos.

Anyhow, the engine quit and down I want in about 10 feet of water. I can still remember looking at the wheels as they entered the water, making a bit of a splash and thinking; “that would have been an awful landing on a hard surface.” It seemed as though it took forever before hitting the bottom but was probably no more than 10 seconds.

I was strapped in only by seat belt and fortunately it had an ex-military lever release buckle. I released the seat belt and popped to the surface without having swallowed any water.

I swam ashore wearing shoes and helmet where there was a swarm of damyankee tourists awaiting; “how high will it go; how fast will it go and did you built it yourself?” It was shortly before Christmas and a bit nippy but I tried to politely answer their questions until one offered to drive me back to the airport.

Upon arriving at the airport, I gathered up some ski ropes and with some helpers, returned to the scene of destruction with my car and trailer where my gyro could be spotted by one rotor blade tip sticking out of the water. I tied enough ski ropes together to reach my gyro and since I was already cold and wet, swam out, dove down and tied on the ski rope. The rotor blades, my first set of Hughes 269 helicopter blades, looked as though they had been walked on by elephants.

Got it home and in an air conditioned shop, drained the water and after a few days, the Mac started right up, never having been opened. The water landing didn’t harm either engine or wood prop.
 
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