FTW02LA180
FTW02LA180

On June 13, 2002, at 2015 central daylight time, a Frennace Twinstar gyroplane, N711FS, was destroyed when it impacted trees while maneuvering near the Morehouse Memorial Airport, Bastrop, Louisiana. The gyroplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. The airline transport rated pilot and his non-pilot rated passenger sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The local flight originated from the Morehouse Memorial Airport, at 1945.

The pilot reported that he departed Bastrop for a local VFR flight. Due to a concussion, he does not recall the events surrounding the accident. The passenger reported that he recalled departing from the airport and flying over the town of Bastrop. They were en route back to Bastrop, and he could see the airport when the gyroplane started to lose altitude. As the gyroplane neared the trees, he heard the engine noise increase. Subsequently, the gyroplane impacted trees and came to a stop upright 1/2 mile west of, and abeam, the approach end of runway 34. The passenger added that as he exited the gyroplane, fuel was leaking on him. According to the pilot, the gyroplane sustained structural damage to the fuselage, rotor blades and rotor mast.

According to a witness, the flight departed Morehouse Memorial Airport to the east, turned to the north, and traveled out of sight. At 2015, while talking on a mobile phone, the witness heard the engine at full throttle, heard the rotor blades impact trees, and then the engine noise stopped. The witness did not visually observe the accident.

The pilot held an airline transport certificate, commercial pilot certificate, and a flight instructor certificate for airplanes; however, he did not hold a rotorcraft-gyroplane rating. The pilot was unaware that he was required to obtain this category and class rating. At the time of the accident, the pilot had accumulated a total of 9,046 hours, of which 3.0 hours were in gyroplanes.

At 1953, the surface weather observation facility at the Monroe Regional Airport (KMLU), located 20 miles southwest of Morehouse, reported the following conditions: wind from 350 degrees at 9 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, a scattered cloud layer at 6,000 feet, broken cloud layers at 7,500 and 9,000 feet, temperature 28 degrees Celsius, dew point 22 degrees Celsius, altimeter 29.84 inches of Mercury, a wind shift to 010 degrees at 33 minutes past the hour, and lightning in the distant north.

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