NTSB Identification: CHI94LA274.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, August 09, 1994 in SANDWICH, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/21/1995
Aircraft: NELSON BENSON B-8M, registration: N26063
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

SEVERAL WITNESSES TO THE ACCIDENT REPORTED THAT THE GYROPLANE APPEARED UNSTABLE AS IT CLIMBED TO A MAXIMUM ALTITUDE OF APPROXIMATELY 50 FEET. TWO WITNESSES DESCRIBED THE GYROPLANE 'TIPPING' AND 'DIPPING' SHORTLY AFTER TAKEOFF. THEY SAID THE ENGINE SOUNDED AS THOUGH IT WAS RUNNING AT FULL POWER IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO THE ACCIDENT. THE GYROPLANE PITCHED DOWN IN A MANNER DESCRIBED BY ONE WITNESS AS A 'SOMERSAULT' AND IMPACTED THE TERRAIN IN AN INVERTED, NEAR VERTICAL, NOSE DOWN ATTITUDE. AN UNTESTED/CUSTOM ROTOR HEAD WAS REPORTED TO HAVE BEEN INSTALLED ON THE GYROPLANE. ACCORDING TO THE PILOT'S WIFE, HE HAD MODIFIED THE GYROPLANE AFTER HAVING A PREVIOUS ACCIDENT; SHE DID NOT BELIEVE THE GYROPLANE HAD BEEN SUCCESSFULLY FLOWN SINCE IT WAS MODIFIED. TWO PERSONS, WHO WERE FAMILIAR WITH THE GYROPLANE, INDICATED THAT THE MODIFICATION WOULD HAVE AFFECTED CONTROLLABILITY OF THE AIRCRAFT. NO RECORD WAS FOUND THAT THE PILOT HAD EVER BEEN ISSUED A PILOT CERTIFICATE. TOXICOLOGY TESTS REVEALED TRACES OF METABOLITES OF COCAINE, SUGGESTING USE IN THE PAST THAT HAD BECOME METABOLIZED BEFORE FLIGHT.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

IMPROPER PLANNING/DECISION BY THE PILOT (OWNER/PILOT/MECHANIC), AND HIS IMPROPER MODIFICATION OF THE FLIGHT CONTROL SYSTEM, WHICH RESULTED IN HIS FAILURE (OR INABILITY) TO MAINTAIN CONTROL OF THE GYROCOPTER. A FACTOR RELATED TO THE ACCIDENT WAS: THE PILOT'S LACK OF FLIGHT TRAINING.

Full narrative available

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