Monday, January 02, 2012

RAF 2000 GTX SE, ZK-RCO: Accident occurred January 01, 2012 at Whangarei Airport (NZWR), New Zealand

Gyrocopter pilot "Rusty" Russell (right) makes a phone call, minutes after his aircraft crashed at Whangarei Airport yesterday.

A Whangarei gyrocopter pilot walked away unhurt from a crash at Whangarei Airport yesterday.

"Rusty" Russell was landing his gyrocopter and was about 4metres from the ground when the wind blew the aircraft on to its left side, just before 11am.

Mr Russell tried to right the small aircraft but it was too late. The rotor blades hit the ground and the cockpit tipped over, coming to a stop on the grass beside the runway.

He was helped out of the overturned aircraft and suffered no injuries except to his wallet he said.

The gyrocopter was irreparably damaged and would be going to the dump, Mr Russell said.

The day had started well, with a flight to Ruakaka.

"I'd been out for about an hour and I was coming back in, everything was lined up nicely, just before I touched the ground she kicked sideways a little bit.

"It just leaned over one way and the wind got under the rotors," Mr Russell said.

"I thought maybe I'll come out of it, put the hammer down and throw the stick over ..."

But it was too late and the gyrocopter, which Mr Russell has owned for about a year, ended up in a heap on the ground.

"You've just got to fly them every minute, you can't relax.

"They're like a mad chook, they just take off. After two hours, you're buggered just keeping the damned thing flying.

"Every time you get out of this thing you buzz for about an hour.

"If you want adrenaline, this is the thing, but I think it's a bit too much adrenaline."

Mr Russell was yesterday stripping the broken aircraft of anything that could be reused and planned to take the rest to the dump.

While it was Mr Russell's first crash, it is not the first time the gyrocopter has overturned.

"It's done it three times now. The first guy who bought it in Tauranga did it, and I think the second guy did something similar, and it's done it again," Mr

Russell said. He has not been put off flying altogether, although he probably will not buy another gyrocopter.

"I think I'll stick to fixed wing flying," he said.

In May 2011, Grant Simpson, 50, died when his gyrocopter crashed at Awanui, north of Kaitaia. Mr Simpson, with family links in the Far North, lived in Taumaranui, where he worked as a mobile mechanic.

The Civil Aviation Authority is yet to complete a report into the fatal crash.

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