Training may likely be the issue why so many Euro Gyro Accidents

GyroRon

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This is just my two cents, and I could be 100 percent wrong about this.... But....

I do wonder if the people who are getting involved in gyroplane flying in the last 10 years or so, that came to Gyros to own and fly the expensive euro gyros, and who likely have gotten their instruction from CFI's who have little to no gyro experience before Euro gyros became so dominate.... Are they getting the same type of training that I got, or others who learned to fly gyros during the 1990's and early 2000's.

I am not knocking any particular instructor, but I just wonder if the instructors these days practice and preach the same things that were taught to us in my time.

I was taught in a machine that was extremely UNSTABLE... Very powerful, very unstable, Very much a PIO and PPO prone gyro. It also had a very weak pre rotator.

I was taught to FEEL the gyro in the seat of my pants, That I needed to fly the gyro by feel, not by looking at the instrument panel. I needed to have my hand on the throttle, ready to PULL the power back at even the slightest hint of instability.... Pull power, pull the cyclic back, and " Stabilize " the gyro!!!!!

I was taught how to get the blades up to speed with a pre rotation of maybe 50 RRPM, By slowly taxiing into the wind.

I was taught to RESPECT the machine and have FEAR for my life.... to never be complacent and or reckless.


I just wonder if instructors these days are teaching their students anywhere close to how my instructors taught me. I suspect they teach quite the same as a fixed wing instructor would teach his or her students.... Just basic flight training and following pre set instructions and numbers. I wonder if they teach to fly by feel and seat of the pants? I wonder if they teach and preach the same level of respect and fear of or for the machine as we were taught?

I do know that a decade ago, or more.... When first Magni's then all the other euro gyros came onto the scene, it was discussed here at length.... that these are all very much a high thrustline design, and even though they have large tail surfaces, at low airspeeds and high power settings, these machines can be just as deadly as the gyro's of the 1980's and 1990's that we were seeing bunt over and killing people ( think Aircommands and RAF2000's )


Anyway just my two cents.
 

gyrojake

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On piloting techniques I will agree with Ron.
Not all of us can fly by the seat of our pants.
All these deaths and crashes prove that thorough training is a must.
Now-a-days everything is about getting the cash, after the crash they don't care cause they got the cash.
 
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BEN S

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This has been precisely the point I have been making in the other thread.

I once was at a fly-in and there was a gyro pilot wanna be there, he was actually showing his limited knowledge off to some guests that had come to see what a gyro was....
I was cleaning my blades on a ladder as he took them around and I listened to him talk about the different gyros, like he was some kind of ambassador/authority (he had never soloed in one at that point). Anyways he gets to my rig and is describing it, when he notices there was no Rotor tach. He says to the guy and his wife, "This guys rig is not finished being built yet as he doesn't have a rotor tach, I doubt he flys it, it would be almost impossible to do so without knowing what your rotors RPMs are!"

He was receiving training from a prominent CFI in the Euro types......nuff said
 

Mayfield

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I continue to observe that some things just never change.

I have been blessed to have flown many thousands of hours over a 55 year period since my first solo. I have always envied the “natural” pilots; the ones who seem to be able to fly the “box it came in.” I've never been that good.

During the half century that I have flown I have observed the phenomenon of older, successful, intelligent, people hurting themselves in high performance machines of every type.

We even told stories about “doctors and Bonanzas”. This of course was referring to the A36 Beech Bonanza and doctors and the high percentage of accidents in that demographic.

Doctors (substitute any highly trained, very intelligent, high achievement individual; particularly in later life) and Bonanzas was the phrase uttered around the FBO coffee pot when explaining an accident.

Bonanza, Cessna 340, Cirrus, R22, are just a few of the aircraft involved in accidents with low time but really smart people.

I have observed exactly the same phenomenon in power boat racing, sailing, off road vehicles with any number of wheels, sky diving, etc. The “successful” person can afford the very best, most expensive equipment but may not have the ability to master it.

Instructors need to be very careful. A wealthy, confident, intelligent, student can be difficult to critique. Be as objective as possible in your evaluations. Is he or she safe to operate this machine in the environment? If you have to ask yourself, you already know the answer.

I am not experienced in the modern gyroplanes, but it appears a similar trend may exist. Money gives us the ability to buy more machine than we can safely handle.

Is there a magic bullet? Probably not.

Instructors will continue to try to understand the technical details of rotor dynamics and communicate that knowledge to their students. They will also, I am certain, continue to do their best to communicate “coffin corners” to students and give students honest assessment of strengths and weaknesses.

Of all the aircraft I have flown, the gyroplane is the easiest to fly but the hardest to understand. There are innumerable ways to get hurt and some of them are unrecoverable.

My condolences to the families of the lost loved ones.

Jim
 

loftus

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Not to take away from what was said above, but at least 2 of the 3 accidents in the last few threads seem to be completely unrelated to gyro specific training - a wire strike (in Namibia), and what appears to be engine out or weather related ( Florida ). So important to keep some perspective here that being a safe pilot goes beyond actual piloting skill to include good ADM. When I think of any closer calls I have had so far, my aircraft or my ability to fly it were not the problem. Weather decision making, low flight, mechanical issues can get you as well the moment you leave the ground in any aircraft.
 

C. Beaty

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I’ve had 2 crashes where the gyros were totaled but I never so much as scratched a finger.

On the first, I was test flying a more or less standard Bensen B-8 for a young Coast Guardsman stationed at the St. Petersburg Coast Guard station when the complete vertical tail fell off. There was no choice but to switch off the engine and descend vertically; even an idling engine caused a spin as a result of P factor.
Hit square but tumbled over and tried to roll itself up in a ball. Thankfully, the standard single 2x2 mast was clamped at the seat back/top engine mount and didn’t break, affording rollover protection. My only injury resulted from being rolled around in a bed of sandspurs..
The second wipeout occurred when flying my own gyro that was built from 2.5 x 0.120 inch wall round 2024 tube using Bensen B-8 dimensions. On a short cross country, I was following Gary Yanson because my boat compass was spinning in a circle from the vibrations of my Mac but I lost sight of him and it was about noon with sun directly overhead so I became completely disorientated. I landed in a pasture that was rougher than a cob and got directions from people on the ground. I finally got airborne after a bone rattling takeoff run but just as I cleared the power lines at the edge of the pasture, the crankshaft of my Mac broke. Down I came at essentially zero airspeed, alighting in a patch of scrub palmettos. Every length of tube on the air frame except the axle bent but nothing broke. A young couple in a car saw the crash and the lady rushed to my aid, ripping the seat of her jeans from crossing the barbed wire fence. When I informed her I was OK and didn’t need assistance, she expressed disappointment, saying that she had just finished a Red Cross first aid course and was looking forward to practicing her new skills.

The lessons from my crashes:
1. Crash at zero ground speed
2. Have a mast that affords rollover protection
 

DavePA11

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I have observed many of the accidents are related to being trained in a different make/model gryos than the one the student solos or purchases. I understand this is difficult if training on dual gyro to fly a single gyro. Training in gyro of same make/model, but with different engines can even have very different flying characteristics.

I also found many of the people who have the money to buy expensive aircraft, don't always have the time to spend training on flying the specific make/model aircraft leading to higher rate of accidents.

Chuck - glad no fires on any of the accidents. Seems there are a lot of high impact gyro accidents ending in fires. Just read the post on the Cavalon accident in Namibia.
 

ultracruiser41

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I’ve given many demo flights in the Cavalon to people that have never flown anything before and I always suggest not to buy a Cavalon for their first gyro. Most don’t listen because they like the “looks” over anything else and they have more money than skill. I also think that many pilots don’t fly often enough to maintain a good level of proficiency and some of these gyros are very unforgiving with sloppy handling.

The only way to get better at something is to do it.....again...and again.....always consider a flight a ‘training flight’.

I also believe that pilots that have a complete understanding of the mechanics of flight are more proficient......and I don’t just mean the ‘mechanics’ of the aircraft....I mean the mechanics of how and why the aircraft flies....how the rotor works....what it’s doing as it goes around.....why it does what it does.....and what can happen to it when things aren’t correct.

I feel for all the CFI’s out there cuz I know there are many students that get just enough training to think they know what they’re doing and we all know how that ends. We need to all work together to help anyone we see that could use a little extra attention to techniques and abilities. Some may not like our intervention but I’d rather have someone mad at me than have their families missing them!

I care about all my gyronaught brothers and sisters and want everyone to be safe and have fun!

And........HOPE YOU ALL HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY HOLIDAY !! 😉🎄
 

SpyderMike

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Mayfield has an interesting point. I have been a Cirrus SR22 owner since 2006. Back then there we an abnormally high amount of accidents in the planes. People generally came to the conclusion that it was wealthy undertrained pilots taking chances because they had the chute as a backup. However, thourough analysis showed a leading cause was inconsistent training. It took great effort by Cirrus and the owners group (COPA) to standardize a training program and promote it. It has paid off last time I looked at the numbers.
 

ultracruiser41

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2-stroke engines with cool exhausts and an absence of stored electricity leaves nothing to start fires.
Unfortunately.....if the fuel tank ruptures or leaks.....fires can occur. I’ve seen a 2 stroke explode on impact.....looked just like a bomb went off. 😔
 

GyroRon

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I will just say that, I am one of those that has the gift of good seat of the pants feel... operating any kind of machinery comes natural to me. I guess I should consider myself blessed. So perhaps it is hard for me to imagine what it is like to try to learn and then fly any aircraft, but especially a gyro... when your the type that does not have good seat of the pants feel.

I can see how in a reasonably stable airplane, you could fly it purely by the numbers. I mean, I did just that while getting my PPL, I had to fly with a shield to where I couldn't see anything but the instrument panel, its totally doable.

But in a gyro, I would almost say, having somewhat of a decent " seat of the pants " feel for things would be almost critical for safe operation of a gyro. There is too much going on, or that can go on, that you're not going to see on a panel... but you can feel it in your seat. Things you need to react to, sometimes immediately.

I feel that most people CAN get to a point where they can fly these with that seat of the pants feel. We almost all have it in our cars. I mean, how often do we really need to look at our speedometer when driving? We know by feel what 45 or 65 or 75 mph feels like. We can feel the tires slide if we get on a slick road or in some snow and know we need to reduce speed and not do abrupt maneuvers...

I think instructors would be doing their students a big favor if they taught how to get these machines into the air and back on the ground with no view of the instruments. I mean, not throughout the entire learning process, but maybe a hour or two of " Black out " training, where the airspeed and rotor tach are covered, so the student can learn to feel the RRPM and feel the airspeed.

I will also say, even though I butted heads with Steve McGowan here and there, he was a hell of a good instructor and everyone that took lessons in his Black Parsons trainer will attest, if you mastered that gyro, you could safely fly anything. I am very thankful I got my instruction from Steve in that gyro!
 

DavePA11

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Hi GyroRon, I think many of the gyro pilots on this forum are rare in their exceptional abilities to fly the gyros, and probably have the seat of the pants skills you mention.

Some people just don’t have it. I’ve seen many student pilots of ultralights, trikes, gyros and fixed wings and some students just should not be flying. Those tend to be younger people with no mechanical background that I have seen. If you know how something works most likely you can fly it better.

I am sure CFIs have run across a few students where they don’t think the student has the flying ability. But think this is rare, and most pilots with the right skills can learn to fly gyros safely.

I suspect what causes some of these accidents is what the pilot reverts back too from muscle memory when something goes wrong and they panic. New gyro pilots with lots of trike experience might press on the wrong rudder, or pilot with lots of fixed wing time might push the nose down rather than reduce power, etc. I bet a lot of this contributes to accidents with low time gyro pilots like myself.

I agree about not needing to look at the instruments as much too, but I know some fixed wing pilots that only fly by instruments and rarely even look out the window until entering the pattern... These also are the pilots that can afford the expensive graphical avionics too. Maybe this is contributing to the Cavalon accidents with students looking at the avionics and not flying when they panic?
 

EI-GYRO

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I also believe that pilots that have a complete understanding of the mechanics of flight are more proficient......and I don’t just mean the ‘mechanics’ of the aircraft....I mean the mechanics of how and why the aircraft flies....how the rotor works....what it’s doing as it goes around.....why it does what it does.....and what can happen to it when things aren’t correct.
That is the crux of the matter. Well said.
 

Vance

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It may be that there are more Euro Gyro Accidents because there are more Euro Gyros flying.

When I started instructing in Santa Maria, California I was the only gyroplane flying in three counties and there were no “Euro Gyros”. Now in those same three counties there are fourteen gyroplanes flying.

There were very few active gyroplane CFIs with an aircraft in California,

Now there are at least seven active gyroplane CFIs in California.

When I started following gyroplane accidents twenty years ago there were typically four fatal gyroplane accidents a year.

That number is pretty much unchanged despite the increased number of gyroplanes.

I don’t have to look very hard to see that low time pilots make up the majority of the gyroplane accidents and the more new pilots we have the more accidents were are likely to have.

It is my observation that many fatal gyroplane accidents have nothing to do with a gyroplane and everything to do with aviation decision making. In my opinion they would have been killed flying anything.

We have an aging pilot population so natural there are more medical issues.

Most gyroplane accidents are pilot error so naturally we need to identify the causes and understand what led to the mishap.

It is easy to look at some of these accidents and say; “that is something they should have learned during their first hours of flight instruction or more commonly during their first hour of ground.”

As Jim Mayfield pointed out a gyroplane is a difficult aircraft to understand.

I learn something every time I fly.
 

Brian P

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When we had to build our gyros from bits of aluminum the average build time in the UK was 3 years. In that time you'd spend a lot of time around gyros talking to people that had been flying them for years. You'd learn the pitfalls.
You could build the air commands in a week.
 

TyroGyro

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I think the problem can be broken down into five components, listed in order of ease of solution.

REGULATION. How many hours does your country stipulate as the minimum training? 20? Something is wrong then. Try 40, with a realistic target of 60 for the Average Joe, before you solo.

TRAINING. What is the quality of your country's training? Is it up to date? Best Practice? Peer-reviewed? ADM emphasized as much as the pilot inputs?

USAGE. Does your country permit gyros for commercial activities? Ag. Ops. ? Well, make sure you are getting training over and above that required for recreational bimbling [q.v. the scumbag South African company who was sending young men on Ag. Ops in gyros after twenty hours training - to cut financial corners. 3 lives lost...]

ENVIRONMENTAL. Does your training focus on environmental factors peculiar to your own country or location? (flying a gyro in South Africa or Australia will be very different to flying in the UK or Sweden). Hot/High/Humid? Unusual winds? Wide-open wildernesses with nothing (but the occasional and fatal wire)?

CULTURAL. Basically, are you constitutionally-permitted to kill yourself doing the thing you love, with no-one caring so much? If so, pay even more attention to the above topics...
 
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Gyro_Kai

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And just like that...
We have a great, informative discussion going on, Ron, Chuck and Fergus join in and we can all learn.

I cannot provide much input, I learnt in an MTO from the 2nd generation of CFIs, the first one being Ottmar Birkner (founder of Autogyro) and T. Kiggen (first CFI). But the seat of pants feeling cannot be taught, but it came much later, after many hours in changing weather with changing MTOW. I don't think I am very talented, but practice eventually kicks in. I was eventually good enough to fly single seaters and side by sides with ease.

I believe the gyroplane lends itself to reckless behaviour. The safe slow flying convinces people it is easy and the plane indestructible. This leads to flying behind the power-curve, wire strike etc. I think one other item is that people forget, that the flight does not stop when you touch the runway, but when the rotor has stopped completely.

Kai
 

wolfy

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And just like that...
We have a great, informative discussion going on, Ron, Chuck and Fergus join in and we can all learn.

I cannot provide much input, I learnt in an MTO from the 2nd generation of CFIs, the first one being Ottmar Birkner (founder of Autogyro) and T. Kiggen (first CFI). But the seat of pants feeling cannot be taught, but it came much later, after many hours in changing weather with changing MTOW. I don't think I am very talented, but practice eventually kicks in. I was eventually good enough to fly single seaters and side by sides with ease.

I believe the gyroplane lends itself to reckless behaviour. The safe slow flying convinces people it is easy and the plane indestructible. This leads to flying behind the power-curve, wire strike etc. I think one other item is that people forget, that the flight does not stop when you touch the runway, but when the rotor has stopped completely.

Kai
Good to see gyrojake back too (y)

wolfy
 

anthom

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This is just my two cents, and I could be 100 percent wrong about this.... But....

I do wonder if the people who are getting involved in gyroplane flying in the last 10 years or so, that came to Gyros to own and fly the expensive euro gyros, and who likely have gotten their instruction from CFI's who have little to no gyro experience before Euro gyros became so dominate.... Are they getting the same type of training that I got, or others who learned to fly gyros during the 1990's and early 2000's.

I am not knocking any particular instructor, but I just wonder if the instructors these days practice and preach the same things that were taught to us in my time.

I was taught in a machine that was extremely UNSTABLE... Very powerful, very unstable, Very much a PIO and PPO prone gyro. It also had a very weak pre rotator.

I was taught to FEEL the gyro in the seat of my pants, That I needed to fly the gyro by feel, not by looking at the instrument panel. I needed to have my hand on the throttle, ready to PULL the power back at even the slightest hint of instability.... Pull power, pull the cyclic back, and " Stabilize " the gyro!!!!!

I was taught how to get the blades up to speed with a pre rotation of maybe 50 RRPM, By slowly taxiing into the wind.

I was taught to RESPECT the machine and have FEAR for my life.... to never be complacent and or reckless.


I just wonder if instructors these days are teaching their students anywhere close to how my instructors taught me. I suspect they teach quite the same as a fixed wing instructor would teach his or her students.... Just basic flight training and following pre set instructions and numbers. I wonder if they teach to fly by feel and seat of the pants? I wonder if they teach and preach the same level of respect and fear of or for the machine as we were taught?

I do know that a decade ago, or more.... When first Magni's then all the other euro gyros came onto the scene, it was discussed here at length.... that these are all very much a high thrustline design, and even though they have large tail surfaces, at low airspeeds and high power settings, these machines can be just as deadly as the gyro's of the 1980's and 1990's that we were seeing bunt over and killing people ( think Aircommands and RAF2000's )


Anyway just my two cents.

IMHO, this post contains the essence of the training. I try and teach my students in this manner. I was taught flying in a very structured Military regimen and try and teach in a similar manner. The gyroplane is a VFR aircraft, and it makes little sense to chase the instruments by gazing inside at the panel. To get a feel for "seat of the pants" flying takes time. Some get it faster than others.

I feel there are more Euro-gyro accidents because there are more Euro-gyros that are flying these days. Actually fabricating and building from plans instead of a kit teaches one a lot that is not available in the books.

Most students transitioning from airplanes have a hazy idea of the theory about the gyroplane. I feel instructors need to focus on the students in getting a deeper understanding. I do not let any student get away with a hazy idea of the theory. I emphasize to all my students that this machine can kill one in a heartbeat if mishandled.

In our club at Anahuac, we look out for one another. We have discussed the traits of some newbies that exhibit risky behavior and tell them that this type of flying is not for them. Most heed the advice and sell their machines.

A crash in a gyro is a very dangerous, destructive and expensive occurrence. I know what it was like, and to be fortunate enough to come out of it alive. I explain to all my students about the how and why of my crash, which has been discussed in great detail in another thread.

Mostly I teach because I enjoy teaching. I hardly make any money doing it.

Just my thoughts, for whatever it's worth.
 
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