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N122DG accident description

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Crash location 42.180834°N, 84.275278°W
Nearest city Jackson, MI
42.245869°N, 84.401346°W
7.9 miles away
Tail number N122DG
Accident date 15 Jul 2011
Aircraft type Degraw Rhino II
Additional details: None
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NTSB Factual Report

On July 15, 2011, about 1045 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Degraw Rhino II gyroplane, N122DG, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain while attempting to takeoff from a private airstrip near Jackson, Michigan. The private pilot received serious injuries. The gyroplane was operated by the pilot as a personal flight under the provisions of the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The gyroplane was departing on a local flight.

The owner, builder, and designer of the gyroplane witnessed the accident. He reported that the accident flight was the second takeoff that day. The first takeoff occurred about 15 minutes prior to the accident flight. The witness reported that he did not put in the usual ballast in the front seat that he normally did when the gyroplane was operated with only one person on board. According to the witness, the center or gravity (CG) of the gyroplane moved aft without the ballast. However, the first takeoff was successful. He reported that the first takeoff was on runway 15 since the wind favored that direction of takeoff.

The gyroplane departed from runway 33 on the second flight since the windsock indicated about a 5 – 7 knot wind from that direction. The witness reported that the gyroplane did a “mild jumpstart.” The gyroplane climbed to about 200 feet above ground level (agl) and was traveling about 20 – 25 mph when the wind changed to the opposite direction. The nose of the gyroplane pitched up, the airspeed dropped to about 5 mph, and it yawed to the right about 80 degrees. Then the gyroplane pitched down and yawed to the left. The witness reported that the pilot pulled up on the collective. He reported that the main rotor blades “started flapping,” and the gyroplane plunged to the ground from about 30 feet agl. It impacted the ground in about a 20 degree nose down and 10 degree left roll attitude.

The witness reported that the slower than normal takeoff speed, the wind reversal, and the aft CG were factors in the accident. He reported that there was no mechanical malfunction or failure of the gyroplane. A Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness inspector’s examination of the gyroplane revealed no preexisting anomalies to the engine or airframe.

At 1056, the reported surface wind at Jackson County Airport (JXN), Jackson, Michigan, located about 10 miles to the northwest of the accident site, was variable wind at 5 knots.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot did not maintain adequate airspeed during the initial climb, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.

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