Wisconsin - Sport Copter Vortex - Fatal - N634SC

Tyger

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I don't cotton to that S-turn business in the video - at all. Is that what you mean by "communicated gyroplane witchcraft", Phil?
 

MilesW

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You may be in the other camp on a philosophical difference of opinion, but that doesn't justify accusing dissenters of harboring "a high level of ignorance". There are a host of choices that must be made by instructors based on risk/benefit considerations. For example, I do not teach full-down autorotations in the R-22 to primary students, because the risk in training is extreme. Similarly, although there has always been much debate about it, the FAA abandoned spin recovery training requirements (favoring avoidance) for private pilots in airplanes decades ago because their stats showed it did more net harm than good. This dispute has comparable roots. I demo but do not teach downwind approaches, while teaching go-arounds, methods of determining wind direction, and constant evaluation of potential landing sites (wind considerations included). I consider a student who does downwind approaches to flat terrain in non-emergency situations to be exercising poor airmanship. My students are not training to muster cattle, or land at Lukla. I have made a fully informed choice, which differs from yours, but that disagreement does not establish ignorance on my part. Can we avoid the personal accusations?
Please read again, slowly. I stated that condemning the teaching of downwind landings was ignorant. I did not say that disagreement about the practice was ignorant. I did not state my own position, but it is pleasing to see you acknowledge the downwind landing is a reality and by demoing it make your students at least aware of the possibility and then work on the tools that should make the need unlikely.
 

Philbennett

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Hey Vance yes unrelated to downwind landings, It’s related to the rotor point in that it too supports an idea that supposedly rotor rpm is increased to give useful additional lift in the landing phase, although we are still waiting for the reference to support.
 

XXavier

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Hey Vance yes unrelated to downwind landings, It’s related to the rotor point in that it too supports an idea that supposedly rotor rpm is increased to give useful additional lift in the landing phase, although we are still waiting for the reference to support.
I don't believe that, while the gyro is flying, there may be a downwash coming from the lower side of the disk. It's true that, once on the ground, or very shortly before contact, most of the rotational energy of the slowing-down rotor is spent in accelerating air downwards, towards the ground, working like a fan, since, just before touchdown, the flare maneuver spins up the rotor, setting it in 'helicopter mode'... But, while in the air, the downwash flow comes from the upper part of the rotor, not downwards through the disk. There's no 'inversion' anywhere...

Description of the flow in flight, by JC:

Captura de pantalla 2019-09-10 a las 9.46.09.png
 

WaspAir

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Please read again, slowly. I stated that condemning the teaching of downwind landings was ignorant. I did not say that disagreement about the practice was ignorant. I did not state my own position, but it is pleasing to see you acknowledge the downwind landing is a reality and by demoing it make your students at least aware of the possibility and then work on the tools that should make the need unlikely.
For clarity here, my downwind approach demo is not for that purpose (as I read your meaning) and does not include a landing. I do not consider such a landing to be advisable, necessary, or inevitable, and do not intend that the student treat it as a "reality" to be learned, prepared for, or mastered. Rather, it is to suggest the possible consequences of a potentially serious error in judgment in the choice of landing direction. I want the student to experience the speed difference close to the ground and to appreciate the danger in choosing the wrong direction, so that he/she will not attempt to land in that direction. I do a low approach but then a go-around so no downwind touchdown is included.
 
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Philbennett

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I don't cotton to that S-turn business in the video - at all. Is that what you mean by "communicated gyroplane witchcraft", Phil?
Hi - yes although not necessarily the S-turn bit just the rational for the S-turns.

I absolutely loath the "fly like a gyrocopter pilot" narrative because it seems to me that over several decades many in the community have viewed the gyroplane as something different and that in some way normal aeronautical principles don't apply. Its a relatively modern construct because if you read texts from the original Cierva company (most notable is the work by the test pilot Alan Marsh) or indeed the texts by Ken Wallis published by the Royal Aeronautical society they view the gyroplane as a very simple aircraft to operate and very akin to a fixed wing (in fact Wallis undertook a piece of work that saw students fly his single seater after only a ground briefing).

Regardless of ones view on that today all of the gyroplane work undertaken prior to the second world war led to many published papers in the journal of the RAeS and that continued with Wallis who was also a member of the society. The over arching point being that gyroplanes were a serious area of aeronautics with engineering and piloting techniques taken equally seriously.

Today we have theorem that are just based on peoples imagination, folklore or voodoo! People are happy to talk of being behind the power curve when the reason for what they are experiencing is the differing degrees of drag. This rotor "over-speed" that has cropped up here - without even giving context to exactly what this overspeed means or (given the rotor is unpowered by the motor) how it is even achieved. I've even been in an instructor course where the increased pitch angle was explained to suggest it was necessary so that the prop could provide help to the rotor as prop thrust line was included upwards - no mention of the lift equation (meaning angle of attack needed to increase to counter the effect of V-squared part of the equation) and no attempt to quantify the statement. There are examiners in the UK that believe that in an emergency landing scenario the vigorous S-turns are essential so that you "wind the rotors up" (to mean increase the Rotor RPM) so that you have extra lift and energy in hand come the landing - clearly without understanding the transient nature of the rotor RPM increase and therefore for any validity to this concept the aggressive nature of such manoeuvring and the timing of your ultimate impact with the ground. We even have a guy who is (in some parts of UK gyroplane community) a legend because he was a motor mechanic who built an aircraft (it was a highly modified Bensen/Cricket) in the 1960's that seemed to fly OK before killing himself during a demo flight.

We don't seem to get that these aircraft have gone from being viewed as simple, low cost, easy to operate aircraft to semi-death traps with the constraints of regulation to keep mavericks safe from themselves. If we kept it simple and stayed on well founded/established principles we might be in a better space. Its a view anyway.
 

Rotormouse

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It doesn’t matter how much is taught (or not taught) if the student doesn’t have the discipline / self-restraint to stick to the program. The last two single-seat fatalities in the UK were people who wouldn’t listen and couldn’t wait. I met one of them only a short time before his demise. He wanted to come down for gyro-gliding at very short notice, which I was unable to accommodate due to work commitments and tow driver availability. Had he been willing to wait another week, I may have been able to give him enough skill to save his neck, but he was too impatient. For the sake of seven days he threw away a potential 40 years of future with his young daughter - and deprived her of a father.

I taught another guy rotor handling with the glider, then groundwork on a borrowed Cricket. He never demonstrated any self-restraint or responsibility with other people’s machines, the signs were there from the beginning when he took Delta-J’s carbs off without asking me. Marion (quite rightly) said she would’ve refused to teach him, but I know full well that if I hadn’t helped, he would’ve tried to teach himself on a machine that wasn’t his to risk.
Anyway, I’d done an afternoon of two-wheel-balancing and low hops with him, and it was my turn to play for a while. Coming back to the airfield an hour later, what do I see but said idiot at my altitude, flying borrowed Cricket out over the nearby village towards the coast! And that’s just one example of his lack of discipline. He got away with it. Not everyone is so lucky.

You can be the most dedicated instructor in the world, but it’s useless if the student won’t conform. Life is in their own hands if they decide to go off piste. Don’t do it. To the potentially reckless or impatient, I say think of those you leave behind, coz they’re the ones you’ll hurt the most.

I’m not sure what dissing Ernie Brooks has to do with anything on this thread. He was a legend because of what he achieved and his desire to share and improve gyro safety – not because he was a garage mechanic who flew. He was only the 3rd approved gyroplane instructor and examiner in the country, after Ken Wallis and Geoff Whatley. Ernie died (as did many others of that era), because the boundaries were unknown. Some of the pilots questioned at the time by accident investigators, believed that it was ‘impossible to apply Negative G to the rotor blades.’ They had no choice but to learn the hard way because they just didn’t know what they didn’t know.
It’s all so easy these days! Buy a machine off the peg, take it to flight school with instant access to all the information available world-wide. People have no clue how difficult it used to be, barely 20 years ago. And they still die just the same.

So yes, ‘some parts of the UK gyroplane community’ respect those who went before us, because we know what it took. As for being viewed as ‘semi death traps’ that’s been the case since the original Air Command happened in the UK. We get it only too well.

I miss Birdy’s wisdom.
 

Vance

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I agree with Shirley, you just can't fix stupid.

Aviation is particularly unforgiving of stupidity.

Ignorance can be mitigated.

I recently gave a proficiency check ride in an ELA 10 Eclipse to a low time applicant. This ELA 10 Eclipse had a noticeably heavy rotor.

Part of the check ride is an engine at idle accurate landing; touchdown minus nothing, plus 300 feet.

The applicant made a very aggressive (55 degree bank)180 degree turn just before touch down and decided to go around because we had so much float.

I agreed with his decision and suggested we try a stabilized approach.

The gyroplane did not float nearly as far with a stabilized approach.

I am comfortable suggesting his steep turn near the landing increased the rotor rpm and some of the float was due to the energy stored in the over sped heavy rotor.

In my opinion just because some people don’t understand how to create and use this energy doesn’t mean the energy from the rotor over speed is not there.

This has nothing to do with the fatal accident so this will be my last post on this thread.

I started another thread in Theory of flight (Aerodynamics) titled A Reduction in Lift if someone wants to pursue this subject further.
 

Philbennett

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At the risk of huge thread drift specifically on Ernie Brooks i think i reflected the bald facts of the matter reasonably well.

He was also a very active member of the UK chapter of the PRA and low g, display/demo perils had been openly discussed in the PRA magazine prior to his accident. In fact in 1965 (4 years prior to the Brooks accident) there was even an fatal accident at the PRA annual fly in which promted much discussion not only about the dangers of impromptu display flying but also low g flight specifically.

It is almost impossible that Brooks was unaware of these articles given he was possibly the first UK member of the PRA.

So look i totally "get" the fondness for the characters that werr around but very sadly in the cold light of analysis they also set back gyroplanes in the UK and cost the lives of others. Within a short time of the Brooks accident his protege was killed in a similar aircraft doing another display.

Interestingly the Air Command story is unknown to me and i cant figure if it was a UK specific issue or an engineering issue or a combination...
 

thomasant

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My takeaway from the video is that one needs to always look out for what's below or around you when flying. The risk of hitting wires is always there.

I remember as a newbie helicopter pilot practicing a simulated engine out in the Lama helicopter with my instructor in 1981. Only problem was this was in the mountains at around 12,000 ft MSL. I was trying to make it down to the valley floor about 4000 feet below, where there was a little clearing near a rapidly flowing river. Never saw the power lines crossing from one side of the valley to the other till we felt the helicopter nearly nose over as the right skid hit one of the wires. We were lucky then. I do not blame my then instructor for trying to teach me something that has been a very valuable lesson.

Back to the subject of giving a reference from some published aviation source regarding the effects of what Doug Riley and Birdy described regarding the effects of the rotors over speeding and the associated danger close to the ground. I actually experienced the phenomenon and was unable to recover despite applying full power to go around. Maybe some of the experienced pilots or instructors can check this phenomenon at say 500 to 600 ft and see if this effect is there and why so. I too would like to understand it in more depth. I asked about it to Chuck Beaty after my crash on this forum and he mentioned something about "helicoptering" in the gyro.

Regarding the DW landings, not once have I mentioned teaching any student to proficiency for that. Learning can be visual in addition to kinesthetic and aural. So by demonstrating a technique that could very well be a reality some day is also teaching, because the student is exposed to something that he may never be prepared for in the real world. Not once is anyone advocating that one should'nt always try and readjust an approach to align into the winds. Yes, that is the taught method, but it may not be possible if the engine quits, or there is some emergency at lower heights.

I have learned a lot of stuff on this forum and most of it has been without published references, and I am thankful for those pilots and instructors that helped in the process. For Mr. Bennet to be belittling other instructors on this forum speaks of poor taste, especially if he gets into a huff about some of the things that are posted here on this thread. Maybe he could use some lessons in anger management. Who knows.
 
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Philbennett

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It’s not about getting angry it’s more a depressing reflection of maybe why this aircraft class suffers a higher proportion of accidents.
 

thomasant

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I absolutely agree with you on this. I'm an accident statistic myself now after nearly 40 years into flying because of what I feel may have contributed to it. It is being discussed in another thread started by Vance. I'm sorry if I came off harshly in some of my comments.
 
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