ANC99LA048
ANC99LA048

On April 18, 1999, about 1230 Alaska daylight time, a wheel equipped, experimental/homebuilt RAF 2000-GTX gyroplane, N95WE, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing after takeoff from the Palmer Municipal Airport, Palmer, Alaska. The gyroplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) local area personal flight when the accident occurred. The solo private pilot/owner was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated at the Palmer Municipal Airport, about 1220.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge on April 20, the pilot reported that he was departing on runway 15. He said that as the gyroplane climbed to about 400 feet above the runway, strong winds were encountered from the southeast. The pilot stated: "I just could not keep it from sinking, and I had to put it down." The pilot said that during a forced landing in an open field, the gyroplane landed hard, and the fuselage and main rotor system sustained substantial damage.

The pilot holds a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land rating, and did not hold a rotorcraft-gyroplane rating. The pilot stated that he did obtain an instructor's logbook endorsement for solo flight in gyroplanes.

On April 21, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness inspector, Anchorage Flight Standards District Office, examined the gyroplane wreckage at the pilot's residence. The inspector reported that during his conversation with the pilot, it was reported that after the accident, a bent cyclic control tube was found lying next to the gyroplane wreckage. He said that the lower spherical rod end bearing had fractured across the threaded portion of the bearing assembly. The inspector added that the two remaining control tubes remained attached. The cyclic control tube was sent to the National Transportation Safety Board's Materials Laboratory for examination. A Safety Board metallurgist reported that the fracture surfaces exhibited features consistent with an overstress separation. He added that the fracture face was consistent with the direction of the tube bending.

The closest official weather observation station is located at the Palmer Municipal Airport. On April 18, at 1153, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting, in part: Wind, 170 degrees (true) at 7 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds, clear; temperature, 55 degrees F; dew point, 35 degrees F; altimeter, 29.85 inHg.

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