FTW95LA031
FTW95LA031

On October 21, 1994, at 1500 central daylight time, a Herron Little Wing Autogyro, N45LW, was substantially damaged while landing near Little Rock, Arkansas. The private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local test flight.

The pilot, and builder of the gyroplane, was conducting initial low level flight and taxi tests at North Little Rock Municipal Airport. He stated that the "initial flight tests" consisted of climbs, descents, and S-turns conducted at low altitude over the runway surface. Both hovering and roll-on landings were conducted with power on. These were accomplished by taking off from the approach end of the runway, flying the length of the runway at low altitude, and landing the airplane at the departure end. This sequence was accomplished 10 or 12 times with no problems. The pilot stated that, during the last landing, he attempted to land the gyroplane with power off and 10 to 15 knots of forward airspeed. The initial touchdown was on the two front main landing gear, and as the tail wheel came in contact with the ground, the tail turned sharply to the right. The aircraft then swerved to the left and rolled inverted to the right causing structural damage.

After the accident, the pilot reported that the aircraft had a "tail wheel shimmy" during ground taxi testing the day prior to the accident. Examination of the aircraft after the accident revealed that the mounting bracket for the tail wheel assembly was fractured for undetermined reasons, and the tail wheel was loose.

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