Aviation expert weighs in on fatal gyrocopter crash in Clay County

Two people are dead after an experimental helicopter crashed and caught fire Saturday morning on private property in Clay County.

MELROSE, Fla. – Two people are dead after an experimental helicopter crashed and caught fire Saturday morning on private property in Clay County.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office said a pilot and a passenger died in the crash in a Melrose area. The victims’ names have not been released.

The aircraft they were flying is known as a “gyrocopter.”

News4JAX talked to Aviation Expert Ed Booth who said the investigation into the crash could take up to three years.

Booth said the Federal Aviation Administration will be investigating the incident immediately. He also believes Saturday’s weather was not a factor as to why the crash would have occurred.

“They are known to be very safe, docile. They are always in a state of auto rotation so that if the engine quits its set up to make an emergency landing in a small area,” Booth said.

Booth said the gyrocopter is a cousin to the helicopter, but it is rarely seen.

The gyrocopters rooter is not powered by the engine; it’s a free-wheeling device that generates lift. However, it is very intolerant of parts of failure,” Booth said. “There are a lot of moving parts in the rooter system, the system that controls the rooter pitch and the failure of a single bolt can be fatal.”

According to Booth, gyroplanes are inspected annually like most small planes.

The National Transportation Safety Board will determine what caused the deadly crash.


About the Author:

16-year veteran journalist and Emmy Award winning anchor