SEA99LA129A
SEA99LA129A

On July 24, 1999, approximately 1210 Pacific daylight time, a Vanek Sport Copter gyroplane, N61887, and an unregistered ultralight were destroyed by inflight impact and ensuing ground impact after a mid-air collision at Scappoose, Oregon, airport. The gyroplane's Airline Transport Pilot and non-rated passenger, and the private pilot aboard the ultralight, were fatally injured. No flight plan was filed for the local demonstration flight by the gyroplane pilot or for the local flight by the ultralight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

Witnesses described the gyroplane as being on approach to land on the parallel taxiway to runway 15, about 400 feet above ground level at the approach end of the runway. The ultralight pilot was at the approach end. Witnesses described the impact as occurring when the gyroplane was descending and the ultralight was climbing after takeoff.

The owner of the gyroplane stated that he heard the gyroplane overhead on his downwind leg, when he decided to come outside in front of the Sport Copter building to watch the landing.

He stated, in part, that the gyroplane pilot "was on final approach at approximately 500-700 feet on taxiway 15. A wind out of the south, 5-7 mph, slowed the decent (sic) of the gyro moving forward slowly. Watching the gyro approach closer at the altitude of approximately 200-250 ft. I saw an orange high wing ultralight airplane climb above the hangars. The climb was very steep (approx. 40 degrees), then suddenly he pulled up. Upon realizing he was getting awfully close to the gyroplane, already on final in the landing pattern, I waved at [the gyroplane pilot] and the ultralight with both arms, but was unable to get their attention."

The gyroplane owner continued, stating that "the ultralight impacted the gyroplane, very hard, at the aft end striking the rudder with the ultralight[']s propeller. I could see many pieces of debris in the air at the point of impact. Both aircraft were stopped in the mid-air. The ultralight raised up into the rotor system of the gyroplane coming in contact with the rotor blade. This impact threw the ultralight off to the right, and then it came in, nose down, landing on the right side of the taxi way. The gyroplane after being hit from behind, stopped in mid-air. The rotor blade, after being hit by the ultralight, lost 7 ft. on one side (of a 29 foot blade) rendering the rotor system completely ineffective. The gyroplane then spun slowly on its side, in the air, approximately 200 ft. above ground."

Toxicological testing was negative. No autopsy was performed.

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