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On January 1, 2003, at 1430 central standard time, an un-registered, amateur-built, Air Command gyrocopter was destroyed after a loss of control while maneuvering in the traffic pattern at the Lansing Municipal Airport, Lansing (IGQ), Illinois. The gyrocopter was reported to have taken off to the north from a north/south taxiway. The un-certified pilot was fatally injured. The flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The local flight had just originated when the accident occurred.
According to a written statement by a witness who had 28 years experience building and flying gyroplanes, he observed the gyrocopter takeoff from what appeared to him as the new north/south taxiway. He stated the gyrocopter appeared to heading north and climbing. The witness reported that before reaching the east/west runway the gyrocopter made a turn to a westerly heading. He estimated the altitude at 50 feet. The witness stated that as the gyrocopter passed in front of him it climbed to approximately 100 feet. The witness stated that within seconds he observed the gyrocopter transition into an abrupt climb, which quickly turned into a nose down attitude. The witness reported that the gyrocopter made a quick descent followed by an even faster climb. The gyrocopter then nosed over and tumbled to the ground. The witness stated "In my observation this scenario appeared to be a classic phugoid oscillation of increasing amplitude referred to as "pilot induced oscillation" or PIO."
The FAA-H-8083-21 Rotorcraft Flying Handbook refers to PIO as "an unintentional up-and-down oscillation of the gyroplane accompanied with alternating climbs and descents of the aircraft. PIO is often the result of an inexperienced pilot overcontrolling the gyroplane, but this condition can also be induced by gusty wind conditions. While this condition is usually thought of as a longitudinal problem, it can also happen laterally."
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The final forensic toxicology fatal accident report from the Federal Aviation Administration showed no cyanide; no ethanol: and 60.77 (ug/ml, ug/g) Salicylate detected in blood. Salicylate is commonly known as aspirin.
An autopsy was performed by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, Cook County, Illinois.
At 1425 the weather at IGQ was reported as: Wind 020 degrees at 16 knots and gusts at 21 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition overcast at 2,100.
According to the Commander Elite website, the gyrocopters' empty weight is listed as 300 pounds. FAR part 103.1 states that for a vehicle to be considered an ultra light it must weigh less than 254 pounds empty weight, excluding floats and safety devices.