Sparrow Hawk N430HS - Texas

Steve_UK

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The FAA ASIAS initial summary states

23rd March 2022 - Groen Sparrow Hawk III N430HS accident at Lubbock - injury none - damage substantial - "AIRCRAFT ENCOUNTERED A GUST OF WIND DURING ROLL OUT FOR DEPARTURE AND CRASHED, LUBBOCK, TX."


A gust.
 

Vance

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I watched the video several times and found it painful.

When I hear words like “the rotor speed was fine” and “rotate speed” I know there is a disconnect with gyroplane flying. I wonder what rotor speed is fine means and what the rotate speed in a SparrowHawk is.

He rolled left toward the retreating blade side and the wind was from the left.

A SparrowHawk has a flexible shaft for a pre-rotator like a Magni and so the pre-rotator can be left engaged during the takeoff roll.

Cyclic forward and engage pre-rotator clutch by squeezing the lever and increase the throttle to 100 rotor rpm and move cyclic half back and begin takeoff roll increasing the engine rpm to increase rotor rpm. 120 rotor rpm and full back. When the nose comes up begin moving the cyclic forward to keep the nose wheel just off the ground and she will waddle into the air when she is ready un-commanded.

I agree with Abid, it was a blade sailing event.

Even Dan Gryder who I find particularly abrasive got it right in his comment on the interview.
Probable Cause: Dan Gryder

24 minutes ago

“I GOT TO ROTATE SPEED”. He just explained to the whole world that he doesn’t know anything about auto gyros. You don’t rotate at “rotate speed” like a fixed wing airplane. He did not have sufficient main blade RPM and “rotated” based on perceived IAS and the descending blade was full stalled.
 

BEN S

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I watched it, he seems like a nice friendly guy. I hope he has many many years of enjoyment as a pilot flying a Cessna 172 and sitting around the airfield telling everyone else what a "death machine" Gyros are. You know, like all the old geezers that you run in to at almost every airport when they see you flying "one of them contraptions".

"I remember way back when, sonny"

On the other hand, I bet there is a good deal to be had on Sparrowhawk in Texas just ripe for a refit.
 

Rowdyflyer1903!

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Is the aircraft laying on the left side of the direction of departure? This would indicate rotor management issues but oddly the aircraft is laying on its right side not the left. One explanation would be roll began to the left, he countered with right stick but with not enough rudder to keep the ground track straight?

Most of the standard screw ups are left side of the departure direction with the aircraft coming to a stop laying on it’s left side.

Did his main gear touch down in a crab with the aircraft‘s nose to the left?

The wind from the left, the aircraft Is in the air with a lot of left rudder to keep the track of the runway (a fun thing to do as a fixed wing pilot) and the aircraft settles in a crab configuration. The mains touch and like catching an edge on a snowboard, face plant. This perhaps would explain why the aircraft is to the left of departure but laying on its right side.

The incident occurred at a low airspeed, we can agree. Was it blade sail or a nose high draggiin-out-of-the-sky oh crap crab?

Airspeed is your friend…..at the right time.

I need to watch the interview again.
 

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He rolled left toward the retreating blade side and the wind was from the left.
---
I agree with Abid, it was a blade sailing event.
---
“I GOT TO ROTATE SPEED”. He just explained to the whole world that he doesn’t know anything about auto gyros. You don’t rotate at “rotate speed” like a fixed wing airplane. He did not have sufficient main blade RPM and “rotated” based on perceived IAS and the descending blade was full stalled.
Vance nails it.


Sounds like a complicated process in a SparrowHawk. Maybe he forgot the "120 rotor rpm and full back" part.
Cyclic forward and engage pre-rotator clutch by squeezing the lever and increase the throttle to 100 rotor rpm and move cyclic half back and begin takeoff roll increasing the engine rpm to increase rotor rpm. 120 rotor rpm and full back. When the nose comes up begin moving the cyclic forward to keep the nose wheel just off the ground and she will waddle into the air when she is ready un-commanded.

Do the FAA/NTSB know gyrocopters?
It sounds like a classic blade sailing event induced by the pilot.
Curious that he chose to disembark after his first circuit to check everything was OK because he wasn't happy with the landing.
 

Vance

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Is the aircraft laying on the left side of the direction of departure? This would indicate rotor management issues but oddly the aircraft is laying on its right side not the left. One explanation would be roll began to the left, he countered with right stick but with not enough rudder to keep the ground track straight?

Most of the standard screw ups are left side of the departure direction with the aircraft coming to a stop laying on it’s left side.

Did his main gear touch down in a crab with the aircraft‘s nose to the left?

The wind from the left, the aircraft Is in the air with a lot of left rudder to keep the track of the runway (a fun thing to do as a fixed wing pilot) and the aircraft settles in a crab configuration. The mains touch and like catching an edge on a snowboard, face plant. This perhaps would explain why the aircraft is to the left of departure but laying on its right side.

The incident occurred at a low airspeed, we can agree. Was it blade sail or a nose high draggiin-out-of-the-sky oh crap crab?

Airspeed is your friend…..at the right time.

I need to watch the interview again.
I feel there are some important details here.

In my experience a wind from the left requires right pedal to keep the gyroplane aligned with the runway centerline/direction of travel and left cyclic to keep the gyroplane over the centerline.

When the retreating blades stalls and the advancing blades sails rotor lift is lost and the aircraft returns to the ground suddenly as was described in the interview with the accident pilot.

Once the rotor hits the ground on the left side the gyroplane is going to flop around like a fish out of water and no telling which side the gyroplane is going to end up on.

In my opinion a gyroplane’s pilot uses the rudder to manage yaw, the cyclic to manage the speed/direction of travel and the throttle for for altitude.
 

Abid

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Interview with pilot on the Blancoliro channel.

Poor guy is lost. Who the heck was his instructor in Texas.
As I suspected the more steps you put in the takeoff process, rotor RPM to this first, then stick halfway back and then this and then stick there and then this and that ... the more you are going to waste precious runway and the more these transitioning lower time airplane pilots are going to stuff up takeoffs.
At some point we have to look at the stats and say, our pre-rotators today can take you straight to 180 to 230 rotor RPM. There is a rotor RPM gauge in every modern gyroplane. None of this go to this rotor RPM, do this and then go to that rotor RPM and do that. Just go to 180 to 230 rotor RPM, stick all the way back smoothly as you advance throttle smoothly, takeoff. Done. Climb out at Vx or Vy
 
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Rowdyflyer1903!

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If he was used to a fixed wing habit, the left rudder could have been deployed to point the nose slightly into the wind and the thrust of the engine to counter drift by the wind. You are correct as drift correction by a Gyroplane pilot is halted by rotor deployment Into the direction of the wind. However a fixed wing pilot may opt to level the wings and crab to keep the aircraft along the direction of the runway.

If he did this with too much drag created by too high an angle of attack of the rotor, the aircraft in that type of crab would have descended and touched with the right side main gear first.

Fixed wing pilots will crab to a landing and lower the upwind wing and deploy opposite rudder to keep the direction of the aircraft aligned with the runway.

Just my opinion.
 

Vance

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If he was used to a fixed wing habit, the left rudder could have been deployed to point the nose slightly into the wind and the thrust of the engine to counter drift by the wind. You are correct as drift correction by a Gyroplane pilot is halted by rotor deployment Into the direction of the wind. However a fixed wing pilot may opt to level the wings and crab to keep the aircraft along the direction of the runway.

If he did this with too much drag created by too high an angle of attack of the rotor, the aircraft in that type of crab would have descended and touched with the right side main gear first.

Fixed wing pilots will crab to a landing and lower the upwind wing and deploy opposite rudder to keep the direction of the aircraft aligned with the runway.

Just my opinion.
I feel it is important to keep it simple so I will write my opinion in the first person.

On the ground I use the pedals to steer a SparrowHawk with its linked nose gear and once the nose is in the air I steer her with the rudder.

Once the landing gear is clear of the ground and the SparrowHawk is flying I steer her with the cyclic and use the rudder to manage yaw.

I like to keep a SparrowHawk lined up with the direction of travel until I feel she is likely to not touch down again.

If a SparrowHawk lifts off at too low an indicated airspeed I will likely return to the ground gently as long as the engine is making power.

If a SparrowHawk is misaligned when she touches back down gently she may tip over.

This sort of mishap has often been described to me as though it was happening in slow motion.

I have touched down after lift off but I have not tipped over.

In my opinion based on the description of the accident pilot this is not what happened.

“Two seconds and it felt like something slammed me down to the asphalt.”

When the retreating blade stalls and the advancing blade sails rotor lift disappears suddenly and the return to the earth is abrupt.

I am not rated in airplanes and most of what I know about flying an airplane comes from my client’s wonderment about how a gyroplane flies.

When I was learning to fly a Cessna 172 solely by reference to the instruments for my commercial rating it seemed to me she flew very much like a gyroplane.
 

Rowdyflyer1903!

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i agree, when you roll into a turn, back pressure is needed. The adverse yaw is absent from an autogyro so in flight the rudder is not used as often but can you say the same “very much” when it applies to departures and landings? Not at all. Cross wind landing are very different in fixed wing aircraft and we all know that fixed wing pilots have to de-learn fixed wing techniques. Some apply and some do not. Why wouldn’t be easy to imagine, in an emergency or trying situation that a low time gyro pilot might revert to muscle memory or a less favorable techniqu?

Having been there and done that, one of the odd moments in training is two fold. The first when the influence of the tire contact with the pavement is lost, ie on initial climb out. Especially in a cross wind the fuselage reorientates itself to follow the rotor. It’s unnerving to just hold what you have and let things settle down. The second thing is,my word, put you nose down? Are you crazy? That is what a fixed wing pilot is thinking unless he understands the why of it. We have not even addressed the problem of drift at that point.

Crosswind take offs and landings in a fixed wing are much different. Crabbing on takeoffs are common and banking into a cross wind on landing with opposite rudder to stop the turn is how you do it. If you are a tail dragger pilot and you know the CG is behind you and you don’t have much of a margin for error, you have to on the top of your game. I would not climb out in a fixed wing by banking into the cross wind while holding opposite rudder. But you would think nothing of that in a Gyroplane.

Gyroplane pilots can be rather rudder lazy. On every approach I say to myself “ happy feet. At which point I tap the peddles rapidly just to wake my feet up. My mind is saying to land straight that the rudder got you into this mess and the rudder will get you out. I put the centerline dead on the center of my chest and make sure it’s dead straight. I ignore any other visual distractions.

I believe we witnessed a Sparrow Hawk like aircraft lay one down at Bensen Days last year. It’s easy to set one down in a crab With expensive results. The result is instantaneous and surprising. Much like a micro burst or believing that it was.

Just the curve of the windshield and instrument panel in a machine the pilot is transitioning to can cause odd visual perceptions. Moving form the left seat to the right and vice versus will do the same.

There is no relaxing when a Gyroplanes wheels have touched. That may just well be where the most of your training and understanding is needed.

What would be others explanations of why the aircraft is on the left up wind side of the runway but laying on it’s right side?

An initial attempted climb out in a left crab to counter drift but behind the power curve, settled and touched in a crab sure seems to explain much. Why cannot he be believed when he has assured us his RRPM was adequate?
 

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I'd like to know what he thinks was "adequate" for rrpm.
I'll warrant that he 1) doesn't actually have a number for that, and 2) still has no real idea what his rrpm was when he crashed.

The fact that he told us that, the moment before the crash, he pulled the stick back (when the stick should have already been almost all the way back during the entire roll) when he reached his "rotation speed" (he never says what speed he thought that is/was), says it all, IMO.
 
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Vance

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i agree, when you roll into a turn, back pressure is needed. The adverse yaw is absent from an autogyro so in flight the rudder is not used as often but can you say the same “very much” when it applies to departures and landings? Not at all. Cross wind landing are very different in fixed wing aircraft and we all know that fixed wing pilots have to de-learn fixed wing techniques. Some apply and some do not. Why wouldn’t be easy to imagine, in an emergency or trying situation that a low time gyro pilot might revert to muscle memory or a less favorable techniqu?

Having been there and done that, one of the odd moments in training is two fold. The first when the influence of the tire contact with the pavement is lost, ie on initial climb out. Especially in a cross wind the fuselage reorientates itself to follow the rotor. It’s unnerving to just hold what you have and let things settle down. The second thing is,my word, put you nose down? Are you crazy? That is what a fixed wing pilot is thinking unless he understands the why of it. We have not even addressed the problem of drift at that point.

Crosswind take offs and landings in a fixed wing are much different. Crabbing on takeoffs are common and banking into a cross wind on landing with opposite rudder to stop the turn is how you do it. If you are a tail dragger pilot and you know the CG is behind you and you don’t have much of a margin for error, you have to on the top of your game. I would not climb out in a fixed wing by banking into the cross wind while holding opposite rudder. But you would think nothing of that in a Gyroplane.

Gyroplane pilots can be rather rudder lazy. On every approach I say to myself “ happy feet. At which point I tap the peddles rapidly just to wake my feet up. My mind is saying to land straight that the rudder got you into this mess and the rudder will get you out. I put the centerline dead on the center of my chest and make sure it’s dead straight. I ignore any other visual distractions.

I believe we witnessed a Sparrow Hawk like aircraft lay one down at Bensen Days last year. It’s easy to set one down in a crab With expensive results. The result is instantaneous and surprising. Much like a micro burst or believing that it was.

Just the curve of the windshield and instrument panel in a machine the pilot is transitioning to can cause odd visual perceptions. Moving form the left seat to the right and vice versus will do the same.

There is no relaxing when a Gyroplanes wheels have touched. That may just well be where the most of your training and understanding is needed.

What would be others explanations of why the aircraft is on the left up wind side of the runway but laying on it’s right side?

An initial attempted climb out in a left crab to counter drift but behind the power curve, settled and touched in a crab sure seems to explain much. Why cannot he be believed when he has assured us his RRPM was adequate?
I feel you are over thinking it Rowdyflyer 1903..

In my opinion the description of the takeoff by the accident pilot would not work with any gyroplane I have flown.

I feel that guessing how far aft the cyclic needs to be to get the rotor rpm up to flight rpm at some rotate speed is a poor technique.

He might get away with it until one day he doesn’t.

A cross wind can make it not work out.

In my opinion on the takeoff roll the nose comes up to tell me that she wants me to continuously move the cyclic forward as the rotor rpm and indicated air speed increases.

Others may have a different way of describing it; this is what I teach.

By moving the cyclic forward as the rotor rpm and indicated airspeed increases I am moving the rotor thrust vector toward the center of gravity.

At some unknown combination of indicated air speed and rotor rpm she will waddle into the air on her own.

I feel there is value in listening to her.

Every SparrowHawk I have flown would not get the rotor up to flight rpm with the pre-rotator.

In a SparrowHawk I bring the cyclic full aft at 120 rotor rpm and when the nose comes up I move the cyclic continuously forward as rotor rpm and indicated air speed increase.
 

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.....

Crosswind take offs and landings in a fixed wing are much different. Crabbing on takeoffs are common and banking into a cross wind on landing with opposite rudder to stop the turn is how you do it. If you are a tail dragger pilot and you know the CG is behind you and you don’t have much of a margin for error, you have to on the top of your game. I would not climb out in a fixed wing by banking into the cross wind while holding opposite rudder. But you would think nothing of that in a Gyroplane.

Gyroplane pilots can be rather rudder lazy. On every approach I say to myself “ happy feet. At which point I tap the peddles rapidly just to wake my feet up. My mind is saying to land straight that the rudder got you into this mess and the rudder will get you out. I put the centerline dead on the center of my chest and make sure it’s dead straight. I ignore any other visual distractions.

I believe we witnessed a Sparrow Hawk like aircraft lay one down at Bensen Days last year. It’s easy to set one down in a crab With expensive results. The result is instantaneous and surprising. Much like a micro burst or believing that it was.

Just the curve of the windshield and instrument panel in a machine the pilot is transitioning to can cause odd visual perceptions. Moving form the left seat to the right and vice versus will do the same.

There is no relaxing when a Gyroplanes wheels have touched. That may just well be where the most of your training and understanding is needed.

What would be others explanations of why the aircraft is on the left up wind side of the runway but laying on it’s right side?

An initial attempted climb out in a left crab to counter drift but behind the power curve, settled and touched in a crab sure seems to explain much. Why cannot he be believed when he has assured us his RRPM was adequate?

Crabbing on initial takeoff climb is not that common in airplanes. It is in trikes (there is no rudder). In gyroplanes on initial takeoff may be you can cross control a little but after establishing good speed, you should allow it to crab or the performance suffers greatly. Crosswind cross control takeoff puts one in much bigger risk of rotor blade flapping. Much more than allowing it to crab. We just did the tests and measured flapping angles with GWS. I will not be doing big cross control takeoffs any longer. You think you are doing yourself some kind of favor. The flapping angles tell a different story. I am not afraid of climbing out in a crab. Did that all the time in a trike. I can see some can be afraid of that view. Just keep speed up a bit more in crosswinds.

You asked for explanation of why gyroplane is laying a particular way. Because when the rotor hits the ground, it has a lot of energy and it will do whatever it takes to dissipate that energy. The best thing is to ask which way it rolled at the start sequence of the accident.

On your last point. I'll give you an exercise. Go out in your gyroplane. Pre-rotate to 120 rotor RPM (for Sparrwhawk I guess but actually that's a very low number so go higher if your pre-rotator allows say 180) but do not bring stick all the way. Bring it back say half way to neutral point and now apply high power so you accelerate to a fast speed quickly. Then pull the stick all the way back quickly. Let us know how you fair.

NOTE: Do not do the above exercise. I am just writing that to explain why I do not believe what you suggest is what happened. The pilot himself said he pulled the stick back at rotate speed. Which clearly means the stick was not all the way back and he was fast enough to break ground. No matter what his rotor RPM were, he was going to flap. He has been playing with fire with that technique and his number was coming up.
I do not understand why such a big gyro with a huge engine like Sparrowhawk can only get rotor RPM to 120 though. I think what they say is at 120 pull stick all the way back while keeping pre-rotator engaged like the Magni. He decided not to do that.
 

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Poor guy is lost. Who the heck was his instructor in Texas.
As I suspected the more steps you put in the takeoff process, rotor RPM to this first, then stick halfway back and then this and then stick there and then this and that ... the more you are going to waste precious runway and the more these transitioning lower time airplane pilots are going to stuff up takeoffs.
Uhmm, OK, nice strawman there. If the flexshaft prerotator autogyros were commonly afflicted with blade sailing, you might have had something there. But such is not the case, no, not at all.

At some point we have to look at the stats and say, our pre-rotators today can take you straight to 180 to 230 rotor RPM. There is a rotor RPM gauge in every modern gyroplane. None of this go to this rotor RPM, do this and then go to that rotor RPM and do that. Just go to 180 to 230 rotor RPM, stick all the way back smoothly as you advance throttle smoothly, takeoff. Done. Climb out at Vx or Vy
While any autogyro can be blade sailed, the flat disc 200 rotor RPM spool up drive-shafted prerotators simply have a higher incidence of it. Few RAFs and Sparrowhawks have experienced blade sailing, but such are rather common in the Calidus, for example. Among new pilots transitioning from FW, it's just not as predictable as your:

"Just go to 180 to 230 rotor RPM, stick all the way back smoothly as you advance throttle smoothly, takeoff. Done. Climb out at Vx or Vy."​

That all works splendidly...when the new pilot remembers to move the stick back before the roll. They too often do not remember to do so.

I've never found the progressive aft stick with rotor RPM any tricky procedure, and certainly not an inherently risky one. By the time the stick is full back at 120+ (and one is still prerotating from there to 200) the risk has mostly dissipated as a take-off roll commencing with aft stick will further spool up the rotor. (This is not liberty to go to full power <200.) Also, the progressive aft stick in conjunction with increasing rotor RPMs I believe instills more appreciation for the throttle : prerotation relationship, and thus helps to teach rotor management.

I do not understand why such a big gyro with a huge engine like Sparrowhawk can only get rotor RPM to 120 though. I think what they say is at 120 pull stick all the way back while keeping pre-rotator engaged like the Magni. He decided not to do that.
And I do not understand where you have gotten that idea of 120 as a maximum. 200 is easy to achieve in a Sparrowhawk if the prerotator is properly maintained, and its POH explicitly calls for 200:

Sparrowhawk prerotation procedure.png
Sparrowhawk prerotation procedure-2.png
I'd like to know what he thinks was "adequate" for rrpm.
I'll warrant that he 1) doesn't actually have a number for that, and 2) still has no real idea what his rrpm was when he crashed.

The fact that he told us that, the moment before the crash, he pulled the stick back (when the stick should have already been almost all the way back during the entire roll) when he reached his "rotation speed" (he never says what speed he thought that is/was), says it all, IMO.
Yes, good ear. He was not following POH procedure at all. No autogyro should be "rotated" like that. The pilot in his interview seemed vague and sloppy. He was indeed fortunate to emerge alive and relatively uninjured. I hope he scrupulously realises what he did incorrectly that day.
 

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Andino
I have never flown a SparrowHawk and I am not sure I have any desire to fly one. I have also never flown RAF and probably will never want to fly one. So of course I don’t know. I am guessing that their procedure is to pull back all the way at 120 while keeping pre-rotator engaged. Which the accident pilot didn’t do and caused a blade sailing accident.

I clearly opined that it was not Gyroplane’s fault.
 
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Smack

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Crabbing on initial takeoff climb is not that common in airplanes.
Crabbing on initial takeoff climb is absolutely common in airplanes.
The technique is used to maintain runway heading and avoid drifting downwind.
Crabbing is also common on landing approach, BTW.
 

Abid

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Crabbing on initial takeoff climb is absolutely common in airplanes.
The technique is used to maintain runway heading and avoid drifting downwind.
Crabbing is also common on landing approach, BTW.

Really so airplanes in your opinion fly the first 50 feet crabbing and come down to the runway 5 feet above crabbed bottom cross controlled?

I don’t see this much being taught. If I am not aligned at least 75 feet above the ground with runway, it’s usually not good. Specially if I am in a tailwheel.
 

Rowdyflyer1903!

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Crabbing on initial takeoff climb is absolutely common in airplanes.
The technique is used to maintain runway heading and avoid drifting downwind.
Crabbing is also common on landing approach, BTW.
I do not know of another means of maintaining runway heading and or track other than crabbing to a crosswind. It’s is something which is done to practice proficiency and accuracy while visually closer to terrain during climb. Besides that, it’s kind of fun and helps the pilot get the feel of the aircraft in those conditions. She or he might just need that feedback and recent experience when they pilot the aircraft back to the runway. To say this technique is not exercised commonly is a head scratcher. With extreme respect, I disagree.
 
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