CHI94LA274
CHI94LA274

On August 9, 1994, at 1345 central daylight time, a Nelson Benson B-8M gyroplane, N26063, was destroyed when it impacted the terrain near Sandwich, Illinois. The non-certificated pilot sustained fatal injuries. The personal flight originated in a farm field near Sandwich, Illinois. No flight plan was filed, and visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

Several witnesses to the accident reported that the gyroplane departed from a farm field, northwest of the intersection of East Sandwich Road and Chicago Road. They reported that it departed toward the east and 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 reported several changes in the sound of the engine and said it sounded as though it was running at full power immediately prior to the accident. The airplane pitched down in a manner described by one witness as a "somersault", and impacted the terrain inverted, in a near vertical, nose down attitude.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airworthiness inspector examined the wreckage. He reported that all flight controls and engine controls operated normally. The engine rotated freely and had compression. The fuel tank was recovered and was over half full. The inspector reported that the propeller and rotor were replaced in January 1994; however, no records of a condition inspection or aircraft logbooks were recovered. He reported that "dragon wing" rotor blades were installed on the gyroplane.

During an interview with a FAA Operations Inspector, the pilot's wife reported that the pilot had purchased the gyroplane in 1982 and had received some flight instruction in it. She said he had "crashed" the gyroplane in May 1994 and sustained minor injuries.

She reported that the pilot had subsequently modified the gyroplane and she did not think that he had flown it successfully since the modifications. She said she did not know if he held a pilot license. The inspector provided a record which states that no record or entry has been found which discloses that the pilot was ever issued a recreational pilot certificate or higher level airman certificate.

During a telephone interview, Mr. Ernie Boyette of Rotor Flight Dynamics, Lithia, Florida, stated he had inspected the gyroplane several months prior to the accident flight and had recommended to the pilot that he should not attempt to fly it. He said the geometry in the custom control system would potentially inhibit roll control. Additionally, he said that the installation of dragon wing rotor blades on a standard rotor head must include a modification to the balance springs to prevent a nose down trim condition.

Mr. Doug O'Conner of the Popular Rotorcraft Association (PRA) reported during a telephone interview that he believed the pilot had some experience flying gyroplanes and believed he was a "pretty good pilot".

During a telephone interview, November 28, at 1445, Mr. Thomas Milton, an airframe and powerplant mechanic and member of the PRA, reported that he was familiar with the accident gyroplane. He reported that the pilot had some experience flying gyroplanes but did not believe he had flown very much, if at all, in the past three years. He said that he and several other members of the PRA inspected photographs of the accident gyroplane and reported that the custom control system incorporated several extra linkages. He emphasized the need for tactile feedback from the rotor to the control stick for maintaining aircraft control. He said the extra linkages in the custom control system probably eliminated much of the tactile feedback from the rotor to the pilot.

Toxicological testing conducted by the DeKalb County Coroner in Sycamore, Illinois, was negative for all tests performed except for nicotine/cotinine and caffeine.

Federal Aviation Administration forensic toxicological testing of the pilot detected cocaine, 1.456 (ug/mL, ug/g) benzoylecgonine, and 0.076 (ug/mL, ug/g) ecgonine methyl ester in the urine specimen. The blood specimen contained 0.035 (ug/mL, ug/g) benzoylecgonine.

The autopsy was performed by the DeKalb County Coroner in Sycamore, Illinois on August 10, 1994.

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