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

Vance

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Here is a curious thing. On this forum you could post any number and any variety of potential solutions to various and obvious problems people get themselves into and almost immediately someone will tell you how you're all wrong and in fact absolutely nothing could be further from the truth. Then some months later we read of another gyroplane that went the way of the one that prompted the old post and repeat.

By far the most popular thing to post is that in the olden days everything was great and much better than it was today. Fair enough always space for nostalgia and being a Brit we are perhaps have most to be nostalgic about! Then you take a look at the actual landscape that existed for gyroplanes in the olden days with some of the legends of the time and very sadly it didn't end well.

Yet it doesn't really matter because for the most part we aren't going back to how it used to be done fundamentally because in 2021 you can't. If a group of people were to spend endless summer weekends at a disused airfield in the UK doing wheel balancing and hops you would have problems. The first is the disused airfields of the 60's thru 90's are now housing estates, business parks or have row upon row of parked cars on them due to unsold new units or unsold finance returns [see Bruntingthorpe]. Assuming you find a disused airfield [and i say disused because one in service has no interest in a group of people doing the activities i suggest] then within an hour or two of starting the engine the Police will arrive ask for permissions and tell you there have been complaints about the noise.

The entire process will be utterly thankless.
It is a shame that Phil Bennett feels he is so limited by his environment and what he can teach in the UK.

I fly out of an airport in Santa Maria, California (KSMX) with an operating control tower.

If I feel a client needs to practice balancing on the mains or crow hops air traffic control (ATC) will let me use 3,000 feet of the 5,200 foot 75 foot wide paved cross wind runway (runway 2/20) until I feel the lessons have been learned or they need the runway for something else. I just let them know when I am finished.

As long as I ask first; ATC will allow me fly any non-standard pattern or any flight profile I want to better teach some particular lesson day or night.

I have been fortunate to have several long time gyroplane flight instructors as both flight instructors and mentors and find value in their experience and knowledge.
 
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Vance

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I just wonder the differences in how instructors are today verses how they were before Euro gyros.


My gut feeling is todays instructors in the Euro gyros don't dwell much on PIO / PPO and " Scare " their students into respecting how they operate their gyros.

The instructors I used, and from the time I was new to this sport made sure you were scared and that you respected the operation of your machine.
I feel those are good and valid questions Ron.

I have flown with 42 flight instructors and the only ones who didn’t make me aware of the risks involved in aviation knew I already had a low fear threshold and was well aware of the risks involved.

Some of the practical test standards for a Sport Pilot Gyroplane CFI include explaining Pilot induced oscillations, power push overs and risk assessment and mitigation.

In my first briefing with a new client before we ever go up in the air we go into the elements of rotor management, pilot induced oscillations, power push overs, over controlling, weather and risk assessment and mitigation.

In my experience being “scared” limits learning and degrades the response the difficult situations.
 

Philbennett

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I'm so glad you are here to always point out my errors. Here is the initial steps to gyroplane training which I doubt KSMX allow but should I be incorrect I'll be sure to let students know that they can head over to the west coast of the USA and get some proper training in with the Yoda of gyroplanes.

 

Tyger

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Great video... seems like Pathé figured it would be easier to add music (and engine sounds) in post production than to employ a sound tech. I wonder where/how they attached their camera to that glider...
 

Vance

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In my opinion gyroplane glider training has real value.
I have flown a two seat side by side towed glider and found it to be instructive.
It isolates the cyclic from other controls in an instructive way..
I would advise anyone to take advantage of an opportunity to fly a towed glider with experienced operators.
Often the environment is chaotic and not ideal for learning.
There is a lot to learn and less than a couple of half hour sessions is probably not enough time to be a building block for gyroplane flying. .
 
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DavePA11

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Jon - Recommend to buy a gyro of same make and model that you are training in for your solo work if possible. Fewer changes the better. Good luck with the training!
 

Vance

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Can you gyroglide with Vance Breeze at KSMX?
I don't have a gyroplane glider so I have never asked.
Probably not.
I took my ride in a towed glider at El Mirage dry lake in California.
PRA chapter one has one.
 

Philbennett

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It is a shame that Phil Bennett feels he is so limited by his environment and what he can teach in the UK.
Probably not.
I took my ride in a towed glider at El Mirage dry lake in California.
PRA chapter one has one.
So you might reflect upon how the context of my prior post and your suggestion of limitations are not that far apart from your own limitations. I don't know anyone regularly flying or offering rides never mind instruction in a gyro glider in the UK for over a decade. The accident below pretty much ended activities from 1997. How about you relax the cheap shots?

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5422f3c540f0b613460004f1/dft_avsafety_pdf_501029.pdf

As an aside the old way, valuable and interesting experience as it may be does not prevent the worst from happening even with very experienced instructors.

https://assets.publishing.service.g...00aa7/Air_Command_532_Elite__G-BPFW_09-91.pdf
 

StanFoster

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I dont have a dog in this race, but I enjoy eating popcorn.

Vance, my friend. I have been blessed having visited with you many times. You are an amazing person.
 

GyroRon

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Fara, Yes there was a ton of accidents back before euro gyros took off like they have.

I think some of differences we see today verses then is...

Euro gyros aren't exactly a death trap. Yes they do have high thrustlines, which should make PPO Bunt overs very possible, and I do believe there has been more than a few deaths in euro gyros due to PPO, in general these machines all have reasonably large Horizontal Stabs and reasonably heavy stick forces and they are relatively stable to fly..... Also the people that are buying these have money, I mean the cheapest ones are still 60 plus grand and most are 100 grand or more. If you are well off enough financially to blow 100 grand on a toy, then you probably have the time and money to go get some training.

Before euro gyros became so popular, you have quite a number of very unstable gyros. You had the RAF2000 which not only had a high thrustline, but no H stab and very unstable flight characteristics. You also had many gyro designs out there that were home brewed, that had questionable construction methods and eyeball engineering and downright scary flight qualities. You did also have some designs like the Dominator, Little wing, and CLT aircommands etc.... that were good solid designs... there was also a crap load of stuff out there being flown that was downright scary to even look at much less fly.

And back then ( and I am sure still to this day ) ALOT of people who wanted to get into gyros, wanted to get into gyros because it was cheap. This is why you would see so many gyros with VW or Subaru engines... It was always a goal to get a machine built for the least amount of money possible. These were machines you could build with a drill, hacksaw, and some 2x2 square tubes and a old engine out of a junkyard subaru... So not only did this sometimes result in some very questionable machines being put into the air, you have to think that many of the people in these accidents did not get much or enough or any training at all.

I remember my training was 120$ a hour ( I bet that sounds cheap today, what does lessons cost in 2021??? ) and I would have had to go to Macon Georgia to get that training. For someone who might need 20-30 hours of training, that would have been 3600$ in lessons, plus travel expenses and hotel stays etc... and that could have easily pushed that number to 5-6 grand or more plus could take months if not years to complete. To spend that kind of money and time to get a Fixed Wing PPL seems about normal, but gyro people are different! They are cheap and want to do it on their own. A good number of people had minimal to no lessons at all. 5-6 grand on lessons.... Hell, they weren't trying to spend even that much on their whole gyro build.

Fast forward to today and I wonder what happened to the gyro sport that I remember from 2001-2011... I don't see much in the way of build threads, I don't see near the activity in the plans built / scratch built / kit built part of this sport that I used to see. I do see a lot of activity in with the Euro gyros, but these are different people, and a different KIND of people than the gyro people I remember. Thats not to say they are bad, its just different. I haven't made it to Mentone or Bensen days in several years, but from the reports I have gotten, its 90 percent Euro gyros now at these events and very little of the homebuilt stuff anymore.

Things are different today and maybe for the better as far as safety goes. I do still wonder if the training programs these days are different in a potentially bad way.
 

fara

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Fara, Yes there was a ton of accidents back before euro gyros took off like they have.

I think some of differences we see today verses then is...

Euro gyros aren't exactly a death trap. Yes they do have high thrustlines, which should make PPO Bunt overs very possible, and I do believe there has been more than a few deaths in euro gyros due to PPO, in general these machines all have reasonably large Horizontal Stabs and reasonably heavy stick forces and they are relatively stable to fly..... Also the people that are buying these have money, I mean the cheapest ones are still 60 plus grand and most are 100 grand or more. If you are well off enough financially to blow 100 grand on a toy, then you probably have the time and money to go get some training.

Before euro gyros became so popular, you have quite a number of very unstable gyros. You had the RAF2000 which not only had a high thrustline, but no H stab and very unstable flight characteristics. You also had many gyro designs out there that were home brewed, that had questionable construction methods and eyeball engineering and downright scary flight qualities. You did also have some designs like the Dominator, Little wing, and CLT aircommands etc.... that were good solid designs... there was also a crap load of stuff out there being flown that was downright scary to even look at much less fly.

And back then ( and I am sure still to this day ) ALOT of people who wanted to get into gyros, wanted to get into gyros because it was cheap. This is why you would see so many gyros with VW or Subaru engines... It was always a goal to get a machine built for the least amount of money possible. These were machines you could build with a drill, hacksaw, and some 2x2 square tubes and a old engine out of a junkyard subaru... So not only did this sometimes result in some very questionable machines being put into the air, you have to think that many of the people in these accidents did not get much or enough or any training at all.

I remember my training was 120$ a hour ( I bet that sounds cheap today, what does lessons cost in 2021??? ) and I would have had to go to Macon Georgia to get that training. For someone who might need 20-30 hours of training, that would have been 3600$ in lessons, plus travel expenses and hotel stays etc... and that could have easily pushed that number to 5-6 grand or more plus could take months if not years to complete. To spend that kind of money and time to get a Fixed Wing PPL seems about normal, but gyro people are different! They are cheap and want to do it on their own. A good number of people had minimal to no lessons at all. 5-6 grand on lessons.... Hell, they weren't trying to spend even that much on their whole gyro build.

Fast forward to today and I wonder what happened to the gyro sport that I remember from 2001-2011... I don't see much in the way of build threads, I don't see near the activity in the plans built / scratch built / kit built part of this sport that I used to see. I do see a lot of activity in with the Euro gyros, but these are different people, and a different KIND of people than the gyro people I remember. Thats not to say they are bad, its just different. I haven't made it to Mentone or Bensen days in several years, but from the reports I have gotten, its 90 percent Euro gyros now at these events and very little of the homebuilt stuff anymore.

Things are different today and maybe for the better as far as safety goes. I do still wonder if the training programs these days are different in a potentially bad way.

I pretty much agree with almost all the things you pointed out except your assumption about buyers wanting plenty of training today. Its not always true. Yes they have the money but some of them are also over-confident and think just because they are successful in their careers, they will be great at flying. Obviously things do not work that way at all. So for some its a struggle to eat humble pie and actually listen to an instructor and admit they are deficient and need more time. There is also the case of many successful people being busy with business and since you can't just go to your neighborhood airport and find a gyroplane training outfit, that becomes an issue as well because its scheduling and convenience. In my opinion having more training outfits in all 30 large cities in the US or right nearby them would increase safety quite significantly. You would be surprised how many people will spend $100k on a machine and will have some issue spending $4k on training or giving it enough time to properly be safe because it does not fit in their pre-conceived ideas of how long it should take them to train. Its not just the money, its almost like some feel if it takes them longer, its their ego and pride that is being hurt. That of course is not good for keeping them safe and they start to put pressure on their CFI to sign them off to solo sometimes even unconsciously and that is where I think CFIs need to put their foot down but some get overwhelmed by the customer's over-confident personality. To me when we sit in that seat with a student, I am in charge and that is that. If the student didn't need anything from me, why am I there?

Price of instruction: In 2003 my trike instruction from a BFI was also $120/hour but today instruction is around $200/hour average and that goes for trikes, gyroplanes and airplanes. Of course the trike I was being instructed in was also way cheaper with a 503 2 stroke engine and flew at 40 mph with no avionics to speak of. Handheld Icom A5 radio. Try telling a customer today to use a handheld radio and they will look at you funny. Tell them to use a 582 2 stroke engine and a single seat gyro and they raise their eyebrows. I have 1200 trouble free hours in 503 and 582 based trikes. You feed it right and it worked right and you never fly where you could not land. Those days seem to be gone. I must have landed my 503 stick Trike that flew at 40 mph in sand bars a 100 times 7 miles into the ocean in Tampa Bay. My wife even flew with me because we weren’t married yet and after marriage it’s like she hated flying. False advertising if you ask me.

I remember a really nice old guy named John who bought a Subaru powered dominator to our airport. Yellow. He had 2 engine outs in it and landed on US 19 once. He passed away and left his gyro to Gary Kenslow who was a trike AFI who taught himself to fly that gyro at Zephyrhills which was remarkable because trike controls are opposite. However, Gary was a drunk (albeit talented) and I fired him from my school because he took a student off in a trike without any preflight (very obvious) and while drunk so I was not keen to fly with him in that gyro. I finally flew in it once and it needed a lot of help which he did not know anything about. This was 2006/7. If I had liked the gyro then I would have jumped in right back then but to me it was a scary crazy machine. I now understand a lot of that was the rigging and balancing issue on just that particular machine. Gyro control inputs are extremely small compared to a trike and much much lighter (well except for a Magni may be) and even most airplanes but I was able to get feel of that fairly quickly. Just could not deal with the shaking so much on that yellow Dominator in 2006. And flying a dominator faster than 60 was a lot more uncomfortable than semi open trikes from the back seat.
 
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