John Denver Fatal Yaw (Nose Right) Pitch Up

Tyger

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If he had just topped up his tanks before he started that flight, he wouldn't have needed to mess with the wonky, non-standard, fuel-selector handle. But apparently he didn't want to take the extra time to do that. He had just acquired that plane and I think it was only his second flight as owner. Not topping up was really the first link in the fatal accident chain; sometimes it's the simplest things...

The checkout pilot stated that the pilot flew the airplane from Santa Maria to Monterey, and that he had departed with about 15 gallons of fuel onboard. There were 10 gallons of fuel in the right tank and 5 gallons in the left tank. He noted that the selector was located on the right tank before to the pilot’s departure from Santa Maria.
The Safety Board and the parties to the investigation estimated that the amount of fuel required to fly to Monterey from Santa Maria ranged from 6.4 to 9.1 gallons, depending on the power settings used. Estimates for fuel used during the checkout flight at Santa Maria ranged from 2.5 to 3.6 gallons. The accident flight was estimated to have consumed 3.0 to 4.3 gallons, for a combined total consumption of 11.9 to 17.0 gallons of fuel. Fuel records disclosed that the airplane was not refueled at Monterey Airport.
 
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ultracruiser41

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I had heard that at the time of his accident....he wasn’t legal to fly. Something about a pending DUI and his license was suspended.
 

Tyger

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I had heard that at the time of his accident....he wasn’t legal to fly. Something about a pending DUI and his license was suspended.
"on November 6, 1996, the FAA Civil Aeromedical Certification Division sent the pilot a letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, acknowledging receipt of his June 13, 1996, medical application and stating, in part:

We had previously received an interim report from H. C. Whitcomb, Jr., M.D., pertinent to your alcohol problem. Dr. Whitcomb reported that “in general averages two to four drinks of either wine or beer/week when he’s traveling.” He further stated that there has been no abuse, …in our letter of October 18, 1995, we specified that your “continued airman medical certification remains contingent upon your total abstinence for use of alcohol.”

The letter informs the pilot that based on the above information, he did not meet the medical standards prescribed in Part 67 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, and a determination was made that he was not qualified for any class of medical certificate at that time. The letter further states: “If you do not wish to voluntarily return your certificate, your file may be sent to our regional office for appropriate action.” According to U. S. Postal Service markings on the envelope, the letter was returned unclaimed to the FAA on December 2, 1996."
 
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DavePA11

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How can it be "contingent upon your total abstinence for use of alcohol"?
 

Tyger

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Clearly he had had a DUI or something, after which the FAA had previously agreed to issue him a special medical providing that he quit drinking completely. But, as his doctor had reported, he did not do that.
 

GyroPaul

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Reading about John Denver's accident reaching back at 90 degrees causing nose right and pitch up then crash. So don't reach back to right in tandem gyro for anything... Here is the wiki summary:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Denver

View attachment 1151998
View attachment 1151999
The fuel selector was actually over his left shoulder instead of between the knees like most of that model. The sight tubes for fuel level were in the back seat. He couldn't see them so the mechanic gave him a small inspection mirror that he could use to see over his shoulders. He had to take his right hand off the stick to twist and reach over his left shoulder to reach the fuel selector. That's why his right foot would have extended.
 

Doug Riley

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Some old-time pilots of open-frame gyros felt that they could regain control if the lower portion of their joystick system ever broke, by reaching over their shoulders and pushing up and down on the pushrods. Some claimed to practice this technique. Can't say I ever tried it.

Mashing a pedal hard in some gyros can produce yaw-roll-coupled slip leading to a mid-air rollover. In other models, nothing awful will happen.

Well-designed gyros do not suffer from the spiral instability that fixed-wing planes generally do.
 

DavePA11

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Doug - I suspect tandem gyros with a canopy that significantly increases side surface area would be subject to mid-air rollover with mashing pedal hard to producing yaw into fast moving air stream... I don’t think enclosed side by side gyros would be as susceptible with smaller side surface area like the Cavalon? I only know one gyro pilot who had a mid-air rollover with older gyro model enclosed not on the market any longer, and he lived to tell me about it.
 
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WaspAir

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The size of the lateral surface area is not important; it's the distribution that counts. Lots of area low (think floats, for example) can cause an adverse roll with yaw. Yaw left, expose large area low on the right side, induce right roll.

Balanced vertical distribution prevents that roll response and just makes yawing draggy.
 
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Doug Riley

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Wasp is absolutely right about rollovers caused by slip-roll coupling. Area far below the CG is the worst. About the only thing worse in that department than floats is a boat hull. There have been a few homebuilt gyros designed for water ops that have used a big, centered boat hull and sponsons, instead of two pontoons. Think SeaBee, Lake Amphib, etc.

There's another potential stability trap with body pods, pusher props, and short tail booms: Plain old yaw instability.

As long as the prop blast is powering up the vertical surfaces, a tandem with a big, low "tub" may track straight without a lot of pedal work. Some of them will actually try to flat-spin around to a tail-first stance once the power is off, though. The early Air Command tandems, with the original single vertical tail, were prone to this problem.
 

WaspAir

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Then it becomes a tractor/canard instead of a pusher.
 

Doug Riley

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Yes, a couple of homebuilt tandem gyros have tried "go canard," locking into a spiral that was very difficult to escape from.

BTW, once in awhile, an experimenter (who didn't get the "if it ain't broke" memo) will propose an actual canard gyro, with an H-stab on its nose -- a perfectly horrible idea. A canard without incidence or camber (unloaded) is instantly de-stabilizing. It'll randomly induce either an outside loop or an inside one. A loaded canard (CG forward of normal, making the canard a lifting wing) also is murderous; when it stalls, it'll drop the nose abruptly and send you into low/zero/neg G.
 

C. Beaty

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The Wright Brothers crossed the rudder cables on their airplanes so that the rudder bar moved in the same direction as bicycle handlebars. Along comes Glen Curtiss who teaches himself to fly without crossing the rudder cables and that’s the way it’s been ever since.
I considered crossing my rudder cables when learning to fly via the Bensen flight training syllabus but hung on and eventually learned to fly with bass ackwards rudder controls. I’d lift off using just the nose wheel foot pegs on the ground and not bother with rudder control after becoming airborne as the gyro tracked fairly well so long as my trusty Mac was still running but things became a bit hectic as soon as the Mac quit. But I hung on and eventually learned to fly without smashing anything and not crossing the cables.
 

Smack

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Chuck, I am a beekeeper and have heard multiple times about the benefits of 'apitherapy'.
Supposedly, beekeepers don't get arthritis because of the bee stings we get.
I have but one 1st-hand data point; my Dad.
He used to complain that his hands hurt. In fact, he would put them in a vice and claimed the pressure made them feel better (?).
Tried the bee-stings with one stinger alongside each knuckle.
Of course, the hands were quite itchy the next day, but he swore that it helped (even after the arthritis had developed).
He never asked for another round of bee stings, so can't really say for sure, but he also never complained about his hands again either.
Just a thought on something that might help your arthritis.
Brian

P.S. tried to send this as a private conversation, but the software said that I could not.
 
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