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N7242H accident description

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Tail numberN7242H
Accident dateJuly 18, 2000
Aircraft typeHess RH-1 FALCON
LocationNew Castle, IN
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 18, 2000, at 1945 eastern daylight time, a Hess RH-1 Falcon, N7242H, built and piloted by a student pilot, was destroyed on impact with terrain after takeoff from runway 27 (4,002 feet by 65 feet, asphalt) at the New Castle-Henry County Memorial Airport, New Castle, Indiana. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was not operating on a flight plan. The pilot was fatally injured. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

A witness reported the following to the Henry County Investigative Division, "...[The pilot] was at the airport tonight, which was kind of a, it had been a standard procedure for most of the summer, he would come out to the airport when the wind had died down and we would take his little Gyro Plane out and for, practice take offs but he would only fly to an elevation of probably 50 feet and then he would feather it down and do what we call crow hopping, ...but he was gaining experience ... he had done several [modifications] to his little Gyro and had recently changed the rotors and ... had moved the landing gear back and had made modifications on his, on his stick, which controlled his rudder. ...he made a comment to me tonight ... he said "you know, I feel like uh, its, I have to, I fly too much left rudder to keep, to keep the thing straight, an he said "but I think I know how to correct that", after having said that he went back around and got in his Gyro and went back out on the runway and I don't know if he did any, any more, I think he may have done one more flight, but I had gotten my airplane and was, had moved out, right off the ramp and was waiting on my wife, and I watched him take off and we was waiting for him to de-accelerate and come back down and he stayed, he just right on climbing ... he's going to take it around, he had never, for the record, he had never actually flown it the pattern, all he had ever done is climb, and climb up about 80 feet and then make a landing, and I was thrilled, he made a, a excellent take off, did a nice left bank, did a left entry down wind flying straight and level and about mid-way he was off at about a 30 degree angle from my, where I was at and I was just elated and no sooner had I come down from jumping up and down and screaming that the, the plane started to, it did a little shimmy, uh, it short of, I want to say it sort of went up and then it went back down and then it did uh, I'll say a 720 degree spin, and then it went back down, maybe came back up a little bit and then he turned and made a sharp turn and headed off to the destination, which would have been opposite the direction, he had, was going, on a downwind, would have been upwind and went from there..."

A second witness with 156 hours of flight time reported the following to the Henry County Investigative Division, "...I was at New Castle Airport, I was at the hanger, I was changing a tire on my truck, as I have a plane hanger there, I heard the, an aircraft start up, it did not sound like a normal single engine aircraft, ...the aircraft took off on Runway 27 ...in a west direction, I ran towards the end of a hanger, thinking it was another person who was taking a maiden flight in another experimental aircraft, ...the Gyrocopter, took, started to climb and then turned into a crosswind towards, in a southerly direction and then he flew uh, towards the east until he was in the middle of New Castle Airport at that point he was probably in my estimation 300 feet off of the ground when he had trouble with the, with the Gyrocopter, he started to ... spin the aircraft several times then there was uh, a lot of porpoising in ... the pitch of the aircraft, it was going up and down and spinning and gyrating and we thought he was just performing some stunts ... this had gone on for about 10 seconds then he took off in a southerly direction in a straight level flight ... it was really loud and at that point we heard the aircraft miss out and then catch again and then miss out and then there was total silence..."

OTHER DAMAGE

A 50 foot by 50 foot area of corn crops was destroyed.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a third class medical certificate with a limitation for corrective lenses was issued on December 13, 1999. There were no solo endorsements on the medical certificate. The pilot did not hold any ratings. Logbook entries indicated that the pilot had accumulated a total flight time of 80 hours, of which 0.2 hours were in the accident aircraft.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The experimental amateur built gyrocopter was certified on May 20, 1998. The gyrocopter was found with modifications from the original certification. The rotor blades, rotor head, rotor spin up motor, propeller drive, propeller, landing gear, and upper rudder attachment arm had been modified. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had not approved certification of these changes.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The main wreckage was found lying on its right side and in a cornfield. The 50 foot long ground scar had a northerly heading. One of the main rotor blades exhibited chord wise scratching. Flight control continuity and engine control continuity was confirmed by FAA Inspectors.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy of the pilot was conducted by the Henry County Coroner.

Federal Aviation Administration toxicological test results were negative for all substances tested.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The FAA was a party to the investigation.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.