What is it about Gyros, and is there anything we can do about it?

TyroGyro

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Interesting case of a gyro pilot charged with manslaughter in France...

le-gyrocoptere-s-est-crashe-dans-un-endroit-escarpe-et-rocheux-a-proximite-du-belvedere-de-merelle-sur-les-hauteurs-de-gerardmer-photos-philippe-briqueleur-1576680650.jpg




Anyone know the outcome of the case?
 
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Philbennett

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No idea on the outcome but when you reflect upon other accidents in France that seem to have parallels this passage from the first article stands out:-

“He put himself in a position to be surprised”
“What you are accused of today is having involuntarily caused the death of your passenger by flying at an abnormally low altitude and taking pictures during the flight. The law does not prohibit photos, but you are however required to keep control of your device, ”insisted President Monique Thomas. “I think I was surprised, I got trapped by the situation”, then tried to justify the defendant.
 

TyroGyro

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No idea on the outcome but when you reflect upon other accidents in France that seem to have parallels this passage from the first article stands out:-

It's a good sign that certain countries seem to be waking-up.

If those countries who "own" the lion's share of fatal accidents did a bit more to dissuade the irresponsible in their midst, the global accident rate could fall hugely.
 

WaspAir

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Civil accountability is fully appropriate, and administrative action against flying privileges (and loss of aviation employment) is absolutely fitting, but I remain convinced that criminal action against pilots is a barrier to progress in safety. How candid will a pilot be in aiding an investigation if he knows he may go to jail based on what he says?

I also doubt that most pilots ever have genuine criminal intent in an aviation tragedy. People generally don't purposely crash an aircraft that they are also riding in.
 

TyroGyro

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Consider if you were taking photos while driving a car at 60 mph along the freeway, and killed someone, inside or outside the car.

Would you not expect jail-time?
 

WaspAir

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Reckless driving is a crime in the U.S., but highway safety is not dependent on the investigative process that is typical and essential in aviation. The regulations for flight here provide civil penalties but there are no criminal statutes in the FARs.

Unlike aviation disasters, survivable car collisions are routine, licensing requirements and regulatory oversight is much more lax, and the safety incentives are very different.

I have yet to see any evidence that a threat of jail time is what actually keeps pilots from crashing.
 

TyroGyro

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It's quite rare in a gyro fatal for the pilot to survive, while the passenger dies. I can probably count the worldwide cases on the fingers of one hand...

The evidential burden for any prosecution would be high also.

So only a tiny number of possible cases in the real world. I am quite surprised and intrigued by the French legal case.

The verdict was supposed to be due in July 2020, no doubt delayed by the pandemic.

Whether or not criminal prosecution in such rare cases influences behaviour (pilots are more likely to be dead than prosecuted), there is such a thing as Justice.
 
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DavePA11

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If you end up on the wrong side of government or legal system due to an accident, I am sure you would not want more government or legal involvement. You are only touching on 1 scenario with this accident, but this opens Pandora's box to so many others. Especially for the builder of the experimental gyro...

There are no pilots or builders of their expensive gyros (often with no insurance) who want to get into an accident costing many thousands and totaling their gyro, and I agree with WaspAir that there is no evidence that threat of higher penalties would reduce gyro accident rates. It would of course kill the sport, IMO.

There is already plenty of lawyers who already sue everyone they can related to aviation accidents. Really don't need more or at least not here in the US.

With all the bias, inefficiencies and corruption in the government it baffles me people still want bigger and more government involvement. I do agree there are benefits with some of the agencies here in the US for aviation, but I would prefer to focus on more training to prevent stupid actions of a small number of our community of gyro pilots.

Maybe instructors can cover more on what not to do scenarios. I witnessed one accident where student flew into tops of trees while focused on his stupid video camera (aircraft dropped 50' to the ground), and not paying attention to flying. A friend of mine in his tandem gyro was following me in my SC M912 gyro once while flying in some fields, and he almost flew into the ground trying to keep my gyro in the camera view. SC M912 is much more nimble than any tandem gyro. Point is focus on flying and not trying to get that perfect shot.

Lets have instructors add slow flight and camera distractions to the training syllabus. I know some of this is common sense. Now I tell every student pilot who is still training not to get distracted with video cameras and focus on flying, but amazed at the negative feedback I get from many students to mind my own business. You would be surprised how many student pilots want to get videos to post on social media.
 
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Philbennett

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I don't imagine the French pilot was prosecuted to any meaningful degree, as Waspair says unless their is come clear intent of recklessness then if you start treating aviation in the same way we have gone with automotive then nobody will participate in the accident investigation process if it starts with "anything you do say maybe used as evidence against you"...

Aside from that aviation authorities, and certainly if you look at gyroplanes specifically, don't write the regulations with sufficient rigor to really allow for prosecution as you'll find that guidance material is often contradicted by statute and vice a verse. I'm sure in court of law any low flying was either due to an engine problem or a practiced forced landing, etc.

Would agree with the view on camera's etc. I think they should be banned as in the main the student spends more time on the set-up of his video nonsense than he does on the basic flight preparation.
 

Andino

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"I also doubt that most pilots ever have genuine criminal intent in an aviation tragedy. People generally don't purposely crash an aircraft that they are also riding in."
Neither do drivers purposely crash a car that they are also riding in, yet Involuntary Manslaughter charges are often filed. Mens rea is not an issue there.​

"I have yet to see any evidence that a threat of jail time is what actually keeps pilots from crashing."
The threat of jail doesn't seem to dissuade car drivers from crashing, either.​

"The regulations for flight here provide civil penalties but there are no criminal statutes in the FARs."
You know the FARs better than I, but an intoxicated airline pilot who crashed his Airbus and injured passengers could not be criminally charged? Or are you speaking only of General Aviation accidents?​

The first type of involuntary manslaughter occurs when a defendant recklessly or negligently commits an act that results in the death of another person. Recklessness usually means that the defendant was aware of the risk that they were creating, while negligence usually means that the defendant was not aware of the risk but reasonably should have been aware of it. The level of negligence required for involuntary manslaughter is higher than normal civil negligence and requires that the defendant have acted in a very unreasonable manner. The exact language used to describe this negligence standard varies by state, but many refer to it as “criminal negligence” or “gross negligence.”

Criminal negligence can also involve a failure to perform an act that the defendant has a duty to perform. Where a parent has a duty to take care of and protect a child, but the child dies when she is left in the car on a hot day, the parent may be culpable for involuntary manslaughter. Another example would be a tour operator who fails to advise his passengers of the proper safety protocols, resulting in the death of a passenger. This tour operator has failed to perform his duty, resulting in criminal negligence.

Because involuntary manslaughter does not require a showing of intent, a defendant cannot utilize the defense that he did not intend to commit the crime. A defendant can, however, argue that his actions did not rise to the level of negligence necessary to constitute criminal negligence. This may include arguing that the killing was truly an accident and did not result from the careless actions of the defendant.


I believe that pilots can unfortunately be guilty of “wanton or reckless conduct” (creating a strong likelihood that substantial harm will result to another person) vs. mere negligence or irresponsibility. I do not believe that “wanton or reckless conduct” can always be adequately be punished by civil or administrative means, however I tend to doubt that the French gyro pilot's negligence rose to “wanton or reckless conduct” indictable for Involuntary Manslaughter. What seems to have happened there was something rather between mere negligence and recklessness (but close to recklessness IMO, albeit I'm not a French judge).

I am unpersuaded that "criminal action against pilots is a barrier to progress in safety" because accident pilots will then refuse to incriminate themselves during an investigation. Can an American pilot invoke to the FAA and NTSB his 5th Amendment right? Would his doing so hamper or prevent an adequate crash investigation? Or, would the threat of possible criminal charges scare off reckless pilots from behaving so? These are poignant questions indeed and I haven't the answers.
 

Andino

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It's quite rare in a gyro fatal for the pilot to survive, while the passenger dies. I can count the worldwide cases on the fingers of one hand...

The evidential burden for any prosecution would be high also.

So only a tiny number of possible cases in the real world. I am quite surprised and intrigued by the French case.

If an autogyro crash is fatal, generally both on board are killed. You are correct that the pilot is usually killed more often than his passenger (LN-YUR, ZU-BDY, 12-CO, 74-VA, 46-FU, Australia July 2021, G-4848). Also the pilot is 8:7 more often also injured more severely (N498AG, N50NE-twice, ZU-RKR, D-MXDR, N635BC, Australia June 2013, ZK-XEN) rather than the reverse (D-MOIX, G-RMTO, ZK-MZM, 80-AFC, France August 2011, G-ORDW, OK-TWD01).

I know of no fatal autogyro crash which killed the passenger but not the pilot, do you?
 

loftus

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I have tried it probably at least a dozen times and I show the students on landings just before solo to wheelie down the runway in calm conditions managing and interchanging stick position (airspeed) and nosewheel height a few times.
This is not the exercise I am describing. The exercise I am describing does not lift the nosewheel off the ground, so it's a good introductory exercise before progressing to lifting the nosewheel and wheel balancing as you describe. The exercise can be done much more safely by the neophyte than wheel balancing. It's simply an exercise that allows the CFI to demonstrate the inverse relationship between RRPM and the aircraft speed along the runway for a given engine rpm. Essentially demonstrates how the engine energy is split between powering the rotor and propelling the aircraft forward, and demonstrates how with the stick forward the RRPM will decay, as the aircraft speed along the runway increases, which if carried to it's conclusion would result in a flap. Of course the opposite happens as the stick is pulled back.
 

Andino

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Please, guys, let's not get sidetracked...

Let us focus on what actually kills gyro pilots...

Not FW, weightshift, helis, paramotors, etc...

GYROS


I have the data. You have the wisdom...

Some CFIs continue to call out crashing pilots for not adhering to the POH procedures. That's all well and good, but it glosses over the respective difficulties of different machines. For example, about 55% of autogyro accidents occur during ground handling stages (taxi, take-off, landing). Magnis have proportionally 6x fewer take-off rotor-flapping incidents than AutoGyro. Why is that? The data samples of accident : production numbers are sufficiently large to suggest why. From the Magni M16 Flight Manual:

AT 130 r.p.m. ROTOR SPEED​
4. CONTROL STICK - Place the control stick in takeoff position (rear limit stop).
5. PRE-ROTATION LEVER - Gently reach the limit stop while keeping a constant engine speed.​
AT LIMIT STOP OF PRE-ROTATION LEVER​
6. ENGINE r.p.m. - Gently increase the engine speed until reaching 200 r.p.m. of the rotor (standard pre-rotation).

The take-off roll of a Magni (and other flexshaft pre-rotators such as Xenon and Sportcopter) begins with aft stick. The drive-shafted AutoGyro etc. pilots must spin up with a flat disc, and they often enough fail to roll with aft stick causing either rotor-flap or an abrupt "rotation" and roll/yaw crash. Design matters but this notion seems to have fallen through the cracks and seems rarely discussed.
 
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WaspAir

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"I also doubt that most pilots ever have genuine criminal intent in an aviation tragedy. People generally don't purposely crash an aircraft that they are also riding in."
Neither do drivers purposely crash a car that they are also riding in, yet Involuntary Manslaughter charges are often filed. Mens rea is not an issue there.​

"I have yet to see any evidence that a threat of jail time is what actually keeps pilots from crashing."
The threat of jail doesn't seem to dissuade car drivers from crashing, either.​

"The regulations for flight here provide civil penalties but there are no criminal statutes in the FARs."
You know the FARs better than I, but an intoxicated airline pilot who crashed his Airbus and injured passengers could not be criminally charged? Or are you speaking only of General Aviation accidents?​



I believe that pilots can unfortunately be guilty of “wanton or reckless conduct” (creating a strong likelihood that substantial harm will result to another person) vs. mere negligence or irresponsibility. I do not believe that “wanton or reckless conduct” can always be adequately be punished by civil or administrative means, however I tend to doubt that the French gyro pilot's negligence rose to “wanton or reckless conduct” indictable for Involuntary Manslaughter. What seems to have happened there was something rather between mere negligence and recklessness (but close to recklessness IMO, albeit I'm not a French judge).

I am unpersuaded that "criminal action against pilots is a barrier to progress in safety" because accident pilots will then refuse to incriminate themselves during an investigation. Can an American pilot invoke to the FAA and NTSB his 5th Amendment right? Would his doing so hamper or prevent an adequate crash investigation? Or, would the threat of possible criminal charges scare off reckless pilots from behaving so? These are poignant questions indeed and I haven't the answers.
1. Mens rea is an issue in virtually every crime. Sometimes the requisite intent is only a careless disregard for the consequences, but "strict liability" crimes, without a mental state element, are rare and not applicable here.

2. The threat of jail is widely believed to have a positive effect on avoiding drunk driving, as one example. That threat is effective if it merely reduces crashes; it is not expected to eliminate them. In aviation, it does neither.

3. 14 CFR (the "FAR"s) contain no criminal provisions. As an administrative agency, the FAA does not have the authority to enact criminal statutes. Federal criminal laws are in Title 18, US Code, as enacted by Congress. A drunk airline pilot can be sued to death in civil court but can't be jailed under the FARs. You can try to persuade a local prosecutor to seek indictment under local law, but the Federal preemption doctrine might make that difficult.

4. The 5th Amendment provides a right against only self-incrimination, not against testifying about your actions. It doesn't apply when there is no crime to be charged, as in an FAR violation. It also does not apply to the defendant in a civil suit unless there is a crime implicated. A pilot can be compelled to testify and the 5th Amendment offers no shield. Furthermore, NTSB reports are strictly limited in admissibility in civil suits, to encourage pilot cooperation.

Accident reports from jurisdictions like France, where criminal sanctions are available, feature far fewer pilot interviews or pilot-provided evidence in their analysis, which removes one of the most important sources of information from consideration.
 
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Vance

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Some CFIs continue to call out crashing pilots for not adhering to the POH procedures. That's all well and good, but it glosses over the respective difficulties of different machines. For example, about 55% of autogyro accidents occur during ground handling stages (taxi, take-off, landing). Magnis have proportionally 6x fewer take-off rotor-flapping incidents than AutoGyro. Why is that? The data samples of accident:production numbers are sufficiently large to suggest why. From the Magni M16 Flight Manual:

AT 130 r.p.m. ROTOR SPEED​
4. CONTROL STICK - Place the control stick in takeoff position (rear limit stop).
5. PRE-ROTATION LEVER - Gently reach the limit stop while keeping a constant engine speed.​
AT LIMIT STOP OF PRE-ROTATION LEVER​
6. ENGINE r.p.m. - Gently increase the engine speed until reaching 200 r.p.m. of the rotor (standard pre-rotation).

The take-off roll of a Magni (and other flexshaft pre-rotators such as Xenon and Sportcopter) begins with aft stick. The drive-shafted AutoGyro etc. pilots must spin up with a flat disc, and they often enough fail to roll with aft stick causing either rotor-flap or an abrupt "rotation" and roll/yax crash. Design matters but this notion seems to have fallen through the cracks and seems rarely discussed.
In the study I did of 35 gyroplane accidents with final reports from the NTSB; there were 11 takeoff mishaps (31%). If I include the eight landing accidents (23%) it comes out to 19 accidents in takeoff and landing (54%.

I don’t use my pre-rotator when I am landing.

I don’t have enough accident statistics to get to six to one AutoGyro to Magni blade sailing mishaps.

In the USA there are more AutoGyro gyroplanes registered compared to Magni.

I prefer a pre-rotator that I can leave engaged during some of my takeoff roll.

I have not found the AutoGyro system particularly challenging and I have not had a blade sailing mishap during training in any gyroplane.
 

Abid

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Some CFIs continue to call out crashing pilots for not adhering to the POH procedures. That's all well and good, but it glosses over the respective difficulties of different machines. For example, about 55% of autogyro accidents occur during ground handling stages (taxi, take-off, landing). Magnis have proportionally 6x fewer take-off rotor-flapping incidents than AutoGyro. Why is that? The data samples of accident:production numbers are sufficiently large to suggest why. From the Magni M16 Flight Manual:

AT 130 r.p.m. ROTOR SPEED​
4. CONTROL STICK - Place the control stick in takeoff position (rear limit stop).
5. PRE-ROTATION LEVER - Gently reach the limit stop while keeping a constant engine speed.​
AT LIMIT STOP OF PRE-ROTATION LEVER​
6. ENGINE r.p.m. - Gently increase the engine speed until reaching 200 r.p.m. of the rotor (standard pre-rotation).

The take-off roll of a Magni (and other flexshaft pre-rotators such as Xenon and Sportcopter) begins with aft stick. The drive-shafted AutoGyro etc. pilots must spin up with a flat disc, and they often enough fail to roll with aft stick causing either rotor-flap or an abrupt "rotation" and roll/yax crash. Design matters but this notion seems to have fallen through the cracks and seems rarely discussed.

Following POH procedure is basic instructor and pilot responsibility for something as critical as takeoff and landing.

You are trying to say without properly collected data shown that Magni has less of these takeoff accidents. Yet Magni has more fatal accidents than AutoGyro machines as a percentage and that is from the data that you can look at.
AutoGyro has a few issues. #1 is their instructors and dealers and how they teach. I have taken instruction from AutoGyro dealers in both Europe and in the US (multiple). None in the US I took instruction from really followed AutoGyro's POH method properly. I hate to say it but that is a fact. Only their Hungarian dealer actually used their POH method with me properly as intended.
#2 AutoGyro Cavalon and for that matter even Magni M24 are too short coupled from main wheels to front wheel and that creates a quick sudden rotation that needs to be tamed by the new pilot. Nothing wrong there just needs proper getting used to just like when I flew a Cherokee 180 today as opposed to a C-65 Cub. They are very different. Took me a a couple of hours to bring the 180 down with some grace. Both are airplanes but ..
#3 Many new pilots are simply not told to, trained or care to keep an eye on their rotor RPM gauge as they build their wing during a takeoff roll to see that the trend is of increasing value. That's all you need to know. Even though every single one of these machines has a rotor RPM gauge. Gone are the days of "see that blur", depending on the shade of the blur and the time of the year and whether you are in Florida where sun shines right through that blur or the depressing dark skies in England where it will look grey beyond that blur, you do this XYZ now. You have a gauge just like you have one for monitoring your oil pressure and engine RPM. Use it under normal circumstances. You should know how to pilot without it in time (I agree) but certainly while its available 99.8% of the time, use it.
 
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BEN S

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You should know how to pilot without it in time (I agree) but certainly while its available 99.8% of the time, use it.
This is completely bass-ackwards. Abid I know you won't agree, but if you truly want to cut down on the accidents CFI's worldwide need to stop churning out Gyroplane Drivers like a puppy mill.
Teach them to fly WITHOUT the damn rotor RPM gauge FIRST and make them PILOTS!

This right here, this mentality is in my opinion the single greatest contributor to the accident rate in gyros.

oh I am sure I'm going to catch hell for this post, but so be it.

Ya know judging from the amount of Youtube videos of pilots flying cub type taildraggers and landing off field and even on rivers as they glide up onto the banks, our gyro planes are a dang sight easier to fly then what those guys are all doing. But were the ones with the reputation of having too many accidents....mostly form paved runways.

Sure sure, "If only they had followed the POH" just doesn't cut it.
The old accident rate amongst the Bensen and KB3 crowd who gradually made their way to heavier and more complicated aircraft was what, better or worse?

Maybe just maybe selling giant heavy slab sided dreadnaught class gyros with equally giant engines to rich old men who have no prior gyro experience is more profitable then the money you get from training them for 50 more hours I don't know.....

I am sitting here with my finger hovering over the enter button as I read this and debating whether I should just delete it. Nothing I type here is going to make a difference to the RPM Gauge Gang. You are as set in your ways as I am in mine.
 

BEN S

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On the other note about the three C's Crowds Cameras and confidence, I got taken to task on the comment section of a pretty young 17 year old girl who filmed her first solo flight for Youtube.
I was polite but admonished her AND her CFI who approved of it.
Beginning pilots have no business worrying about likes on Facebook or Youtube when learning. I would be SERIOUSLY agitated at a CFI that recommended this as acceptable to a soloing pilot .
 

Abid

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This is completely bass-ackwards. Abid I know you won't agree, but if you truly want to cut down on the accidents CFI's worldwide need to stop churning out Gyroplane Drivers like a puppy mill.
Teach them to fly WITHOUT the damn rotor RPM gauge FIRST and make them PILOTS!

This right here, this mentality is in my opinion the single greatest contributor to the accident rate in gyros.

oh I am sure I'm going to catch hell for this post, but so be it.

Ya know judging from the amount of Youtube videos of pilots flying cub type taildraggers and landing off field and even on rivers as they glide up onto the banks, our gyro planes are a dang sight easier to fly then what those guys are all doing. But were the ones with the reputation of having too many accidents....mostly form paved runways.

Sure sure, "If only they had followed the POH" just doesn't cut it.
The old accident rate amongst the Bensen and KB3 crowd who gradually made their way to heavier and more complicated aircraft was what, better or worse?

Maybe just maybe selling giant heavy slab sided dreadnaught class gyros with equally giant engines to rich old men who have no prior gyro experience is more profitable then the money you get from training them for 50 more hours I don't know.....

I am sitting here with my finger hovering over the enter button as I read this and debating whether I should just delete it. Nothing I type here is going to make a difference to the RPM Gauge Gang. You are as set in your ways as I am in mine.

I don’t know Ben. I am here with a few Gyroplane pilots turned out in the last 2 years with 0 accidents and there are other old school instructors in the same period with students and new pilots with accidents. So at some point we simply have to accept that monitoring rotor RPM while on ground roll probably works better than wet finger in the sky. I don’t get what’s so difficult in taking a glancing peak at rotor RPM when you look at engine Rpm to make sure you are producing full power or do we not do that either just trust the sound of the engine to get up and then find out we can’t climb.
 
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Philbennett

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This is completely bass-ackwards. Abid I know you won't agree, but if you truly want to cut down on the accidents CFI's worldwide need to stop churning out Gyroplane Drivers like a puppy mill.
Teach them to fly WITHOUT the damn rotor RPM gauge FIRST and make them PILOTS!

This right here, this mentality is in my opinion the single greatest contributor to the accident rate in gyros.

oh I am sure I'm going to catch hell for this post, but so be it.

Ya know judging from the amount of Youtube videos of pilots flying cub type taildraggers and landing off field and even on rivers as they glide up onto the banks, our gyro planes are a dang sight easier to fly then what those guys are all doing. But were the ones with the reputation of having too many accidents....mostly form paved runways.

Sure sure, "If only they had followed the POH" just doesn't cut it.
The old accident rate amongst the Bensen and KB3 crowd who gradually made their way to heavier and more complicated aircraft was what, better or worse?

Maybe just maybe selling giant heavy slab sided dreadnaught class gyros with equally giant engines to rich old men who have no prior gyro experience is more profitable then the money you get from training them for 50 more hours I don't know.....

I am sitting here with my finger hovering over the enter button as I read this and debating whether I should just delete it. Nothing I type here is going to make a difference to the RPM Gauge Gang. You are as set in your ways as I am in mine.
hahaha I feel you on the spears and I actually don't think there is a lot wrong with a fusion of both. This isn't an either or. i.e. just because you look at the RRPM gauge doesn't seem mutually exclusive to being a pilot. In the same way that wheel balancing and no rotor RPM gauge mean you are immune from trouble.

What does seem pretty silly is when an aircraft with an RRPM gauge gets broken and the feedback to the investigator is you had no idea what the rotor RPM was because you didn't look. To suggest that it is impossible to sail the blades if you take off with a wheel balance method means these pilots are immune from error.

I also agree with the other poster who said that Magni's take off process equates to less take off errors, indeed in the UK I can not think of a single blade sail accident off hand.
 
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