FTW96LA161
FTW96LA161

On April 4, 1996, at 1215 central standard time, an unregistered Bensen gyro plane operated by an non-certificated pilot sustained minor damage when the rotor blades struck a bystander during a demonstration flight conducted at the owner's pasture near Carthage, Texas. The bystander sustained fatal head injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight.

According to the pilot, he was demonstrating his gyro plane to an individual that had noticed his gyro plane stored on his property adjacent to his workshop. The individual stated that he had worked on helicopters while in the service and was interested in such "flying machines." The pilot further stated that the individual had a camera in his vehicle and he was interested in taking some photographs of the aircraft.

The pilot agreed to demonstrate the aircraft, and perform a flight around his property. Prior to initiating his takeoff roll the pilot motioned to the bystander to move further to the right of the strip. The bystander acknowledged the pilot's hand signals and moved back. The pilot stated that he noticed that the bystander moved the camera up to his face and proceeded to take pictures as the aircraft accelerated.

As the gyro plane rolled past the bystander taking photographs, the pilot felt a "slight thump at the stick" and elected to abort the takeoff. The main rotor blade impacted the back of the bystander's head. The pilot further stated that the bystander may have possibly lost perspective of the actual distance as he viewed the aircraft through the camera lens.

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