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On January 26, 2002, about 1242 eastern standard time, an unregistered Vortex gyroplane, owned by the accident pilot, crashed on the Immokalee Airport, Immokalee, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The gyroplane was substantially damaged and the private-rated pilot, was fatally injured. The flight originated about 5 minutes earlier from the Immokalee Airport.
The accident occurred during the third flight of the day, and according to a witness, before beginning the first flight of the day, the accident pilot installed the main rotor blades. The first flight lasted approximately 10 minutes. After landing, the accident pilot reported to the witness that he encountered, "stick shake" during the flight. The accident pilot adjusted the main rotor blades then departed on the second flight which lasted approximately 20 minutes. The witness reported that the accident pilot advised with words to the effect that during the second flight, the gyroplane was flying a little better. The accident pilot performed a slight adjustment to the main rotor blades and filled the fuel tank to about 3/4 capacity. The flight then departed, and returned flying approximately 50 feet above ground level, at an estimated airspeed of between 55 and 60 mph; the pilot's feet were observed outside the cockpit. When the flight was near the witness' position, the gyroplane began a gradual yaw to the left. The gyroplane then rolled left to an inverted position, pitched nose down, and impacted the ground. The witness also reported he did not hear a change in engine sound from the time the gyrocraft was flying near his position to the time the gyrocraft began yawing and he did not perceive an engine malfunction.
The pilot was issued a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land rating on May 17, 1995. He was the holder of a third class medical certificate on December 6, 1999, with no limitations. According to the application for the 1999 medical certificate, the pilot listed his total time as 2,000 hours, with 50 hours in the last 6 months. No determination was made how much flight time the pilot had accumulated between the 1999 medical, and the accident date.
The gyroplane was not registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The gyroplane, a "Vortex" model, serial number 089, was designed and manufactured by Sport Copter. It was equipped with a single seat and has a designed empty weight of 325 pounds; the designed gross weight is 760 pounds. The gyroplane was equipped with a 67-horsepower Rotax 582, 2-cycle engine.
According to Sport Copter personnel, the accident pilot purchased the gyroplane kit on March 9, 2001, and it was sent to him on April 6, 2001. The president of the company stated the accident gyroplane should have been registered with the FAA. The president also stated that the accident pilot made contact with his company and asked questions during the assembly process. The gyroplane had been operated for 3.3 hours since new at the time of the accident.
An automated weather observing system (AWOS) observation taken at the Immokalee Airport (KIMM), Immokalee, Florida, on the day of the accident at 1200 hours local, indicates that the wind was from 110 degrees at 6 knots, the visibility was 10 statute miles with clear skies, the temperature and dew point were 28 and 16 degrees Celsius respectively, and the altimeter setting was 30.20inHg.
A METAR observation taken at the Southwest Florida International Airport (KRSW), Fort Myers, Florida, on the day of the accident at 1253 local, indicates that the wind was variable at 5 knots, the visibility was 10 statute miles, the sky condition was clear, the temperature and dew point were 29 and 17 degrees Centigrade respectively, and the altimeter setting was 30.16 inHg. The accident airport is located approximately 110 degrees and 20 nautical miles from KRSW.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The NTSB did not travel to the accident site and did not examine the wreckage. Examination of the accident site by personnel from the Collier County Sheriff's Office revealed that the gyroplane impacted a grassy area near the approach end of runway 36 between the runway and taxiway. The gyroplane impacted the ground on a heading of 030 degrees, traveled 6 feet, and came to rest 180 degrees from the initial impact heading. Ground scars from both rotor blades were observed. Two of the three propeller blades were found separated, the third propeller blade remained secured. A copy of the report from the sheriff's office is an attachment to this report. The gyroplane was recovered.
Examination of the gyroplane following recovery by the FAA inspector-in-charge (FAA-IIC) revealed evidence that the gyroplane impacted the ground with the nose; there was no evidence of preimpact mechanical failure. Examination of the flight controls revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. The FAA-IIC made note of flight, engine, and rotor instruments which were recorded in an inspector statement which is an attachment to this report.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
A postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by Manfred C. Borges Jr., M.D., District Twenty Deputy Chief Medical Examiner. The cause of death was listed as multiple blunt injuries.
Toxicological analysis of specimens of the pilot was performed by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory (CAMI) and by Dade County Medical Examiner's Office (Dade ME's Office). The results of analysis by CAMI was negative for ethanol, .281 ug/ml sertraline and .67 ug/ml desmethylsertraline were detected in blood. The results of analysis by Dade ME's Office was positive in the blood for diphenhydramine, sertraline, and norsertraline. Copies of the toxicology reports are an attachment to this report.