Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Silverlight Aviation AR1 American Ranger, N463JW: Accident occurred October 03, 2019 in Fort Meade, Polk County, Florida

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Location: Fort Meade, FL
Accident Number:ERA20TA005 
Date & Time: 10/03/2019, 1130 EDT
Registration: N463JW
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional

On October 3, 2019, about 1130 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built AR-1 gyroplane, N463JW, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Fort Meade, Florida. The student pilot was uninjured. The gyroplane was registered to and operated by Jeff's Gyroplanes, LLC under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a solo instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Tampa North Aero Park (X39), Tampa, Florida about 1030, and was destined for Sebring Regional Airport (SEF), Sebring, Florida.

The pilot reported that he was flying for about 60 minutes and was southeast of Tampa enroute to SEF, when he "heard a loud bang" from the engine. He increased power but there was no response from the engine. He attempted to troubleshoot the problem but was unsuccessful in his attempt to restore power. As the gyroplane descended through 900 ft mean sea level, he elected to land in a tall grass field that appeared to be free of obstructions. The approach was normal, but during the landing flare, the gyroplane struck tall grass reeds then settled into deep mud as it landed and tilted to the side which allowed the rotor blades to impact the ground.

Examination of the gyroplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed the mast beam, rotor blades, propeller and fuselage were damaged.

The pilot possessed a student pilot certificate, and according to the FAA Inspector, he had the appropriate endorsements for the solo cross-country flight.

According to FAA records, the gyroplane was issued an experimental special airworthiness certificate on September 28, 2018. The two-place gyroplane was equipped with a two blade main rotor, fixed tricycle landing gear, and a Rotax 914UL 115-horsepower engine driving a three-blade propeller. It was purchased by the owner as kit on September 3, 2018.

The weather conditions reported at Bartow Executive Airport (BOW), Bartow, Florida, about 11 miles northwest of the accident site, at 1150 included winds from 060° at 8 knots, visibility 10 statue mile, broken clouds at 2,500 ft, temperature 29° C, dew point 20° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.02 inches of mercury.

The gyroplane was retained for additional examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N463JW
Model/Series: AR-1
Aircraft Category: Gyroplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: BOW, 125 ft msl
Observation Time: 1150 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 11 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 20°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 60°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 2500 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.02 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Tampa, FL (X39)
Destination: Sebring, FL (SEF)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 27.701667, -81.786111 (est)

A Coast Guard helicopter from Clearwater rescued the pilots of two other helicopters Thursday, one flying a small gyrocopter and the other a Polk County Sheriff’s Office aircraft that had come to help him.

The two copters crashed in the soft clay of a phosphate mine discharge pond, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The pilots were chest deep in the clay when the Coast Guard arrived in an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. They were flown to Tampa General Hospital.

The gyrocopter pilot, Jeff Wright, 56, of Lutz, was undergoing treatment Friday at the hospital. The sheriff’s pilot, Deputy Lavon Hughes, 52, was treated and released.

The two choppers were still stuck in the clay Friday morning, said sheriff’s spokesman Brian Bruchey. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the sheriff’s helicopter can be repaired.

“That mud is so thick you can’t walk through it,” Bruchey said. “Our helicopter is halfway exposed and halfway in the clay.”

The discharge pond, on property owned by phosphate producer Mosaic Co., is southeast of Fort Meade. Clay is a byproduct of phosphate mining.

The Sheriff’s Office was notified of the gyrocopter crash around 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Hughes, flying the sheriff’s single-engine, 1972 Bell OH-58 helicopter, responded and spotted Wright standing and waving from the ground, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Wright was flying a two-seat, rotary-wing, American Ranger AR-1 Gyroplane.

The sheriff’s helicopter crashed about 3 p.m., some 100 yards away, Bruchey said.

Neither pilot could be reached by foot, boat or all-terrain vehicle.

So the Coast Guard in Clearwater was called in at about 3:30 p.m. and hoisted the two men aboard its helicopter by cable, Wright in a medical rescue basket and Hughes in a halter.

The Coast Guard flew the two men to Tampa General.

The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the cause of the crashes.

In a news release, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd thanked the agencies that came out to help in the rescue — Polk County Fire Rescue, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Mosaic personnel, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and the Coast Guard.

“This was an extraordinary situation,” Judd said, "and we’re happy that both men were not seriously hurt.”

Story and video ➤ https://www.tampabay.com

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