Confession: The IFR Pilot thinks gyrocopters are pretty rad. Saw some at Oshkosh this year and was very intrigued with them. I'd consider building one, but my mechanical skills are probably a bit lacking. Though I did take a class with the IFR Pilot's Dad last year about building an RV. Maybe someday...
Here's a picture of this beautiful machine:
NTSB Identification: DFW06LA028
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, November 11, 2005 in New Braunfels, TX
Aircraft: Rehler Gyrocopter, registration: N100KR
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.
On November 11, 2005, at 1705 central standard time, an experimental Rehler gyrocopter, N100KR, was substantially damaged following a loss of control while on approach to Runway 13 at the New Braunfels Municipal Airport, near New Braunfels, Texas. The private pilot/builder/owner was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
Several witnesses observed the gyrocopter as it descended toward the runway. When the gyrocopter was about 30 feet above the runway, a gust of wind turned it sideways, and the gyrocopter flipped inverted and impacted the runway. Some of the witnesses reported hearing the engine make a power change before the impact.
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector performed an on-scene examination of the wreckage. The inspector established flight control and engine continuity and found fuel in the fuel tanks. No mechanical deficiencies were noted.
Weather reported at the airport at 1751 was wind from 150 degrees at 12 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, broken clouds at 6,000 feet, overcast clouds at 7,000 feet, temperature 81 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 62 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure setting of 29.97 inches of Mercury.
The builder of this particular gyrocopter apparently had won numerous awards for this bird. You can read about it here.
From the report, it sounds like this was nothing more than a rouge gust of wind that wreaked havoc on the gyrocopter. Perhaps greybeard can enlighten us as to whether it's possible to recover from an inverted attitude in a rotorcraft...
My condolences to the pilot and his family. Remember to fly your aircraft all the way to the ground.