Wisconsin - Sport Copter Vortex - Fatal - N634SC

Steve_UK

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Todays FAA ASIAS summary mentions a fatal Sportcopter Vortex accident at Viroqua, Wisconsin - it states

AIRCRAFT CRASHED UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES IN A FIELD, VIROQUA, WI.

N634SC - flight stage, En Route.

The FAA registers shows a new Certificate Issue Date of 1st August 2019
 

SportCopter

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We at Sport Copter are grieved to hear of this, and send our deepest condolences to the pilot's family and friends.

From a witness report it appears he had an engine out (perhaps within the Height/Velocity red zone). We hope to soon learn further details of this tragic accident. Meanwhile, we wish all gyro pilots to train often, stay current, and fly safely.
 

Steve_UK

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The gyro involved Vortex N634SC shows up on the recently sold pages of Wings of Hope - the St Louis Rotorcraft Club list a copy of that sales ad with specs, appears the gyro was donated to WoH in 2018 - more here

 

GyrOZprey

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So very sad ... he was at Mentone & got some training there ...I understood! Deepest sympathy with loved ones!
 

fara

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He seems to not be rated and only got 6 hours of training
 

Steve_UK

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Local media name the pilot as Jack Wuolle.

A memorial page is now up with details of his life, family and career - donations to the Young Eagles

 

Steve_UK

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The NTSB Preliminary report is now available and contains some alarming insights -

"
On August 19, 2019, about 1834 Central daylight time, an experimental light sport, Sport Copter Vortex gyrocopter, N634SC, impacted a corn field about .31 miles west of the departure end of runway 29 at Viroqua Municipal Airport (Y51) Viroqua, Wisconsin. The gyrocopter was owned and operated by the pilot as a visual flight rules (VFR) flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 when the accident occurred.

The non-certificated pilot was fatally injured and the gyrocopter was destroyed by the impact and post-crash fire. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. The flight departed Y51 about 1830.

According to a family member, the purpose of the flight was to practice taxi operations and become familiar with the handling characteristics of the aircraft. The reason the gyrocopter took off is unknown.

Witnesses at the airport and nearby stated that, after becoming airborne, the engine appeared to lose all power. None of the witnesses heard pops or bangs, and all described the engine noise as just stopping. The gyrocopter then descended rapidly into a corn field and shortly thereafter, smoke was observed rising from the field. First responders arrived to find the airplane fully engulfed in fire.

The debris field extended about 65 ft along a magnetic heading of 336°.

The gyrocopter was equipped with a Rotax 582 series engine.
 

fara

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Taxi operations with pre-rotator engaged. Sure.
He wanted to practice crow hops or balancing on main wheels ... that I can believe and it got out of hand. This would be probably the 5th time I have heard this type of story on this forum. 6 total hours of training on a MTO two seater does not prep you to go to a completely different type of make and model and try to crow hop it. This is always a problem with single seaters. You have to get pretty decent on the two seater, get rated and then switch with a lot of advice from an instructor who has time in the single seater in dead calm conditions very carefully. 6 hours isn't going to do it unless you are superman. There is a fundamental difference between two seat tandems modern gyroplanes and the single seat gyroplanes of the older US pedigree. There is a difference between a Magni and AR-1 or MTO Sport. Magni feels like I am flying a trike two up. The controls have that much resistance and others nes mentioned are 4 finger flyers with small movements.
I know many friends in gyroplane circles disagree but personally I firmly believe that crow hops and balancing exercises can be more dangerous than getting away from the ground, getting to know the characteristics of the machine up at 1000 feet including specially slow flight and energy management exercises and only then coming down flying at 50 foot AGL and seeing how you do and working down to the ground. If you can't do it high, you certainly will screw it up low. That's my $0.02
 
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WaspAir

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Interesting that the FAA n-number records show the aircraft as EAB while the NTSB describes it as ELSA.
 

Eric S

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Double posting:

I wrote this on another thread and I'm reposting it here because I wish I had read something like this before I started flying my single place gyro. Pay it forward.

It seems many gyro CFIs have never flown a single place machine and it's too bad since that's really where gyros shine. I wear my SC Vortex and can whip it around the sky. Flying my 2-place gyro feels more like flying fixed wing.

Crow hopping: I flew trikes before gyros and I still fly fixed wing. They are not very maneuverable right at take off and touch down speeds, but gyros have full control (behind the power curve, inches to 2 ft. above the runway).

I made the same transition from 2-place trainers - Magni and MTO, then scared the crap out of myself flying the pattern in my Vortex on the first flight. I was behind it the entire flight. The Vortex has a much lighter stick and way more maneuverability. I talked to 2 seasoned gyro pilots who had flown single and 2-place and received 2 great pieces of advice.

First, use a light grip on the stick and barely move it in flight. He said to make an "OK" sign with my thumb and index finger around the stick, then choke up on the stick by resting my wrist on my leg. That really helped me and I still tend to fly that way.

Second, follow the Bensen training manual ALL THE WAY THROUGH. It takes great patience and must include lots of practice at each stage - taxiing, crow hopping, S-turns higher and faster until doing them at full power - all of this done safely right over the runway (preferably a big grass strip) BEFORE flying the pattern. I followed it all the way though and I can make our Vortex dance. My Dad stopped at the S-turn stage before full power S-turns and he's not comfortable cranking and banking.

Eric
 

Kevin_Richey

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I tell others that flying a Sport Copter single place machine is quite easy. For the singles, I've flown a Vancraft Rotor Lightning, a Soma, and the SC Lightning & Vortex machines. I've balanced on the mains in an Air Command (far easier than in a Sport Copter, due to the short wheelbase of the A/C).

For the two place gyros, I've experienced flying in a center-line modified RAF (Ron Menzie's for two weeks for licensing purposes), the Sport Copter tandem training gyro (some 17 hrs.), a Xenon 4 (Bi-annual Flight Review), & a Titanium Explorer (BFR). Of those 4 gyroplanes, I state that the Xenon as well as the TE flew just like the SC singles, in terms of pressures (or lack thereof) on the cyclic, rudder response, and engine response to throttle manipulations, in all areas of flight. I disliked just about everything about flying the RAF mentioned.

I might be in the minority, but find flying those 2-place machines to be no problem to experiencing transitioning over from a single place. I first took 12 hrs. of taildragger flight lessons in an Aeronca Champ (in order to be ready for takeoffs & landings while tilted back, and identical stick & throttle positions as a gyro).

Then I was coached over a CB radio from taxying with rotorblades spinning up to flight rpms, balancing on the mains, crow hops, length of runway straight flights, as well as "S" turns down the runway, b/4 going around the pattern, in the Vancraft Rotor Lightning. That first flight around the patch in the VRL was just like flying the Champ was w/ an instructor onboard.

I find it hard to understand how an accident like this one could occur. I'd bet no instructor had signed the pilot off for solo work, just like an identical SC Vortex fatality that occured back around 2013 here locally.
 
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Vance

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Most of my clients believe in their hearts in the beginning of their flight instruction that the cyclic is the up lever and the throttle is the speed lever.

I know this because when they notice they are too high the nose goes down, when they notice they are slow the throttle goes forward.

In their automobile if they want to go faster they advance the throttle and if they want to change direction they point the nose where they want to go. With most clients it takes a while to dislodge this concept.

If someone with this delusion loses an engine on takeoff they may pull back on the cyclic to gain altitude increasing their rate of descent and making a flare at the bottom impossible.

In my opinion with the engine not making thrust the only tool I have to arrest my descent near the ground is to convert the energy in my airspeed to arrest the descent (flare). No airspeed and no thrust means no way to arrest the descent for landing and no rudder control.

Often when the aircraft is not responding as expected people resort to over controlling; exacerbating the situation.

A vertical descent to the ground is usually not fatal.

Please understand I am not suggesting this is what happened; only sharing my experience and a possibility.
 

j4flyer

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This sad. What we know is there was a crash and a death of a brother gyro guy. Let’s pray for his family and hold our speculation. We don’t want to distress his family if they read our posts. Condolences to our friends at Sport Copter. I’m sure they feel the loss as well.
 

jm-urbani

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Vance is The kind of flying instructors we should all listen to when we are young stupid trainees ,

the time of the Super 8 films showing how to ballance on wheels in order the self teach how to fly an ultraligth bensen is OVER !

crow hops or even wheel ballancing done by inexperienced trainees are highly dangerous for the reasons vance reminded us !

I don't know what hapenned to this fellow but how can he be anything else then highly stressed when he found himself flying for real where he only wanted to taxi or only lift the front wheel !

honestly , if he was my mate I would be upset with him really ...

anyway it is done, if there is something after death he will really realize that leaving his familly for playing 5 minutes with a dangerous toy is stupid... it is just like playing with TNT ...

the wright brothers dit not have choice they had to crow hop their plane before learning to fly, but now... We can learn how to fly before crow hoping a monoseater ! all of this require time , patience and Money... this is the price of LIFE !, nothing else then the price of life !

a small monoseater is not a cheap mean of flying quickly after a few hours of dual ... it is a touchy aircraft for beginners certainly more difficult to fly then a cessna at the same level of inexperienc, and nobody would crow hop or ballance on wheel on a cessna with only 6 hours of trainning ... gyros are not toys they are serious aircrafts ... real aircrafts ... for adults ... sorry again ..
 
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Resasi

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My sincere condolences and commiserations to the family and friends of Jack, a fellow gyro pilot. Sad news that is never easy to hear.

Together with the Instructor who did my training for the PPL (single seat) and under whom I was doing my assistant instructor rating, we recently did conversion training for five single seat students who were all 2 seat Gyro PPL’s who had only flown two seaters and had their full Gyro PPL licences. The Instructor doing the conversion course has over 3,000 hrs on gyros and over 40 years experience and at present one of the very few single seat instructors in the UK.

With the exception of one of the five, who was a two seat Gyro Instructor with a lot of time, all admitted that it took them a lot longer than they had anticipated. In the case of two, we had two instructors one at the start the other half way down the runway. It the case of three they were able to be followed by a chase vehicle down the runway. In all cases they were in constant two way radio contact with the Instructor supervising.

None were allowed to fly the pattern or go to any altitude before they had demonstrated the consistent ability to wheel balance thus demonstrating their ability not to over-control, which is very easy to do on the much lighter controls of a single, with it’s reduced longitudinal stability. After that it was progression from low hops around 4 ft to higher around 10-15’ s turns, to high hops, engine outs, before progressing to the pattern. They all felt it was a safe progression that left them confident all the way through, along with the realisation that they had all felt it would not take them as long as it did, and, left to their own devices they may well have gone faster and attempted more earlier. Three of them had a fair amount of fixed wing time.

The minimum allowed by regulation is not the amount of time it takes. It takes as long as the instructor who is converting you says he is happy with, to sign you off, and if you trust him, he does not wish to see a situation like the one that we are all feeling pretty sad about on this thread.

My PPL gyro training for the PPL (G) was the single seat course where there is a minimum amount that has to be done on a two seater before progressing to the single seat. The purpose of having a separate single seat syllabus allows for the pilot who is either limited in funds or is intending to continue his flying on a single rather than a more expensive two seater. The single I used was a Bensen without a prerotator which was excellent for learning rotor control.

Just for information on what is involved, anyone wishing to see the UK Single seat syllabus, it starts on Page 53 of:- CAA Standards Document Section 44 Gyroplane dated July 2019, and the pdf can be downloaded from here:-
 
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SportCopter

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He wanted to practice crow hops or balancing on main wheels ... that I can believe and it got out of hand.
This crash did not occur during crow hopping, but from altitude after an engine-out.

I know many friends in gyroplane circles disagree but personally I firmly believe that crow hops and balancing exercises can be more dangerous than getting away from the ground, . . . If you can't do it high, you certainly will screw it up low.
Here at Sport Copter we believe the reverse: If you can't do it low, you're not yet a well-rounded gyro pilot. (Imagine a helicopter pilot who could not hover.) It's comparatively easy to fly a gyro at 500+' AGL; we often let new passengers do so during their first flight. However, real mastery is required at 0-2' above the runway, and the more practice one gets there the better.

Over many years we've found crow hopping to be an important training tool to master take-off airspeeds, rotor rpm, power/control coupling, flying behind the power curve, ground effect and flaring, the avoidance of ballooning, regularly smooth landings with "walking/jogging speed" touchdowns, and the touch-and-go.

Crow hopping hones the subconscious with the practice of small control movements, which is the path to mastery. 30 minutes of crow hopping can pack in dozens of touchdowns that would otherwise take hours of pattern work landings. Training tempo is high, and a student very quickly learns the proper "feel."

Before crow hopping one should have first mastered balancing on the mains, and tapping the nosewheel as needed. Here's an example of a new student demonstrating good control:

Sportcopter transition training balance on the mains rake 27

Our gyros are designed for this by not linking the NW to the pedals, thus the absence of Sport Copter nosewheel-related incidents while taxiing, take-off, and landing. (In other gyros, we count 10 such global incidents, with another 32 probables/possibles.) Pedal-linking the gyro NW invites drama, especially for the new pilot with <100 hours. (Also, FW pilots are accustomed to using the rudder during take-offs and landings, and many of them find it tricky to transition into NW-linked gyros.)

Regarding 2-place vs. single seat gyros, a student well-trained in our dual gyro with our techniques should be able to safely transition into their single seat machine and not over-control it. Our Vortex 582 and M912 gyros are very responsive, but not twitchy.

But, all this is rather incidental to our discussion of N634SC. All public reports indicate that the gyro owner was not rated, had very little training, went up regardless and then had an engine-out (which an experienced pilot can handle even at very low altitude). Let's work together to make N634SC the last example of such a tragic crash. Solid training and then 100+ hours after one's gyro rating is what it usually takes to move from newbie to reliable competence.
 

jm-urbani

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Here at Sport Copter we believe the reverse: If you can't do it low, you're not yet a well-rounded gyro pilot. (Imagine a helicopter pilot who could not hover.) It's comparatively easy to fly a gyro at 500+' AGL; we often let new passengers do so during their first flight. However, real mastery is required at 0-2' above the runway, and the more practice one gets there the better.
there is no doubt crow hops are necessary before flying a monoseater but the pilot must be an exprienced pilot not a newbie and he must have been trained for this just before

I did crow hops myself but my instructor had prepared to me the case I would fail to stay at @ 1 meter on my ground effect and found myself accidentally higher then expetected

he had prepared me by cutting engine power without warning at various heights during take off ( most of the time at 10m) so that I get used to push the stick and dive to the ground to keep air speed and be able to flare

he knew that it would happen coz every "young" pilot get stressed and make the error of trying to go back down by reducing power even when getting higher then planned ... it is a reflex that first crow hops give us and this is why they are dangerous.

coz a the beginning we lift the front wheel and reduce power , again and again, after we lift the front and then the mains and fly on the ground effetc and reduce power to land, again an again ... trouble comes if we do the same higher then 1 m .... boom bada boom ...

and it happened ... during the third crow hops I found myself at 8 m ( I had been filmed hence I can tell you my altitude) and there I clearly was tempted to only pull the throttle back in order to descend but the trainning had given me enough muscle memory that made me push the Damned stick at the same time and to keep air speed and flare correctly

it is damed important !

a diver is not a diver until he knows how to go back to the surface in apnea or sharing air whitout pannicking ... it should be the same with "crow hopers" ... they need to be trained to land properly in a highly stressing situation like every crow hops attemps

I hardly crashed and even if I already had 80 fligth hours behind me ! so think a little bit to all those fellow who crow hope or fly after only a few hours ...

crow hops are necessary but new pilot need to be trained higly trained for this purpose ..

asking a newbie to manage : one take off, one level flight and one landing all in 30 seconds and 1000 meters is asking someone to become a high level sport man in 2 monthes ...
 
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PW_Plack

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Category is listed as "helicopter," aircraft is referred to as both a "gyrocopter" and "airplane" in the narrative, and other details add to the appearance that this NTSB prelim was put together by someone with little background in gyros.

I firmly believe that crow hops and balancing exercises can be more dangerous than getting away from the ground, getting to know the characteristics of the machine up at 1000 feet...and only then coming down flying at 50 foot AGL and seeing how you do and working down to the ground.
But what if the fuel runs out before you finish getting to know the characteristics of the machine?

If you can't do it high, you certainly will screw it up low.
Exactly.

I think the "sort it out high before coming down low" may be valid for pilots experienced in other aircraft learning to handle a gyro. Maybe crow hops are a better way to go for complete newbies.
 

eutrophicated1

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I have a question. I hope its not inappropriate here. It is for my education specifically about the 582 Vortex: is that a gas-oil mixed 2-stroke engine on that aircraft?
 
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