Sunday, March 22, 2020

Loss of Control on Ground: ELA 07-Scorpion, N534EA; accident occurred May 07, 2018 at Sebring Regional Airport (KSEF), Highlands County, Florida

View of gyroplane at rest. 
Federal Aviation Administration

View of main rotor and tail section damage.
Federal Aviation Administration

View of underside of gyroplane.
Federal Aviation Administration

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 Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Sebring, FL
Accident Number: ERA18TA144
Date & Time: 05/07/2018, 1145 EDT
Registration: N534EA
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On May 7, 2018, about 1145 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Ela 07 Scorpion gyroplane, N534EA, was substantially damaged during the landing rollout at Sebring Regional Airport (SEF), Sebring, Florida. The student pilot sustained serious injuries. The gyroplane was operated by the student pilot as a personal flight conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident for the local flight.

According to the pilot, he was flying in the pattern practicing takeoffs and landings. After landing on runway 1, during the landing roll, he began a left turn to exit the runway when the gyroplane "tipped" and rolled onto the right side.

According to a witness, after the gyroplane landed on runway 1, the rotor blades still had a "high speed" of rotation. When the aircraft started turning to a taxiway on the left, a main rotor blade struck the runway, the gyroplane spun 180° to the right, and impacted the ground, coming to rest on its right side.

Examination of the gyroplane revealed that one of the main rotor blades impacted the front of the fuselage and a section of the other main rotor blade was impact separated and located about 350 ft from the wreckage. The tail section remained attached to the fuselage. The flight controls were intact, and no binding was noted when they were operated. The pilot reported no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the gyroplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The pilot did state in the Recommendation Section of the submitted NTSB Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident report that the accident might have been prevented by "slow[ing] down while making turns."

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private; Sport Pilot
Age: 58, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Gyroplane
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Sport Pilot With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 10/23/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 10/23/2017
Flight Time:  1623 hours (Total, all aircraft), 44 hours (Total, this make and model), 1517 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 42 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 16 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N534EA
Aircraft Category: Gyroplane
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 04175340734
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/21/2017, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1234 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 55 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 55 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Rotax
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: 914UL
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 115 hp
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: SEF, 63 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1135 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 7°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 360°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 29.99 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 16°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Sebring, FL (SEF)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Sebring, FL (SEF)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1100 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 61 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 01
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5234 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 27.448611, -81.343056 (est)


  1. Cost of Investigation: 5 hours Detective hourly rate.
    Case Closed.

  2. Tipping during ground turns is a well-known g-copter characteristic due to high Cg, so either the instructor failed to teach or the student did not listen.