NTSB Identification: LAX04LA132.
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Accident occurred Saturday, February 21, 2004 in Yuba City, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/28/2004
Aircraft: Gillespie Sport Copter Vortex, registration: N96XV
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.

The gyrocopter collided with the ground in an uncontrolled descent following a loss of engine power. This was the second test flight for the gyrocopter. A witness reported that the gyrocopter flew overhead at 50 feet, with the engine sputtering. It then entered a steep descent and impacted a dry riverbed about 45 yards away. At the wreckage site, approximately 1/2 tank of fuel was present. No fuel was found in either of the two carburetors. The blades of the pusher propeller, made of carbon fiber and foam filled, were displaced from the gyrocopter and displayed cracks on the surfaces, but were otherwise intact. The main rotor was bent downward and had impacted the gear ring on the main drive shaft. The Rotax 582 engine contained oil and was rotated. The tachometer time indicated a total engine operation time of 12.2 hours. Post accident inspection of the gyrocopter revealed that a vacuum line to the pneumatic fuel pump, which is made of a soft and easily collapsible nylon reinforced vinyl material, was kinked at a 45-degree angle at its attachment fitting. The pilot had a total gyrocopter flight time of 11 hours and this was the second test flight for this gyrocopter.

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

a loss of engine power due to the incorrect installation of the fuel line, which resulted in fuel starvation, and the pilot's failure to maintain rotor RPM, which resulted in an inflight loss of control. A factor to the accident was the pilot's lack of experience flying gyrocopters.

Full narrative available

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