CHI08LA052
CHI08LA052

On December 14, 2007, at 1426 eastern standard time, an amateur-built Levick RAF-2000-GTX-SE gyroplane, N24DN, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed when it impacted terrain following an in-flight loss of control after takeoff from Salem Municipal Airport (I83), Salem, Indiana. The aircraft had departed from runway 28 (2,500 feet by 50 feet, asphalt) shortly before the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot sustained serious injuries. The local flight was departing at the time of the accident.

The pilot stated that he did not have any recollection of the flight or of the accident sequence.

A witness to the accident reported that the pilot taxied onto runway 28 and began the takeoff roll. He stated that the gyroplane rotated at about the runway numbers. Approximately 20 feet above ground level (agl), the gyroplane drifted to the right and the tail turned "abruptly" to the right about 90-degrees. The pilot reduced power and regained control. The gyroplane returned to the runway centerline and the pilot appeared to be setting up for a landing. However, when the aircraft was about 5 feet above the runway, the pilot increased engine power and started to climb. About 75 to 100 feet agl, the tail of the aircraft again turned "abruptly" to the right, the nose pitched up "steeply," and the aircraft rolled inverted. It subsequently impacted the ground on the rotor mast.

A post accident examination of the gyroplane was conducted by Federal Aviation Administration inspectors. No anomalies consistent with a pre-impact failure or malfunction were identified. All three composite propeller blades were fragmented. The rotor blades, hub and a portion of the mast had separated from the airframe and were located with the main wreckage. The rudder had also separated from the airframe and was located with the main wreckage. The flight control system was examined. Discontinuities in the flight control system appeared consistent with overload failures sustained during impact.

The pilot reported that he had owned the accident aircraft for 2-1/2 years, but he was still just learning to fly a gyroplane. He soloed the previous summer and had accumulated about 5 hours of solo flight time. He had about 20 hours total flight time in gyroplanes. The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land airplane rating. He had acquired about 280 hours flight time in airplanes.

A condition inspection of the gyroplane was completed on May 26, 2007. The aircraft had accumulated 227.5 hours flight time at the time of the inspection.

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