Controller Reported That The Gyroplane Appeared To Enter A Spin During The Descent

Location: Cape Girardeau, MO Accident Number: WPR22FA184
Date & Time: May 22, 2022, 08:03 Local Registration: N590DM
Aircraft: Bruce R Prouse M24 Orion Plus Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On May 22, 2022, about 0803 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built M24 Orion Plus gyroplane, N590DM, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The private pilot was fatally injured. The gyroplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

A witness reported that the pilot was ferrying the gyroplane to his home in South Dakota on a crosscountry flight and had planned a stopover at Cape Girardeau Regional Airport (CGI). According to preliminary air traffic control (ATC) audio, the pilot informed the control tower of his intent to taxi to runway 02. After the controller issued taxi instructions, the pilot requested progressive assistance to the departure runway. The pilot subsequently departed runway 02 to the northwest.

During the gyroplane’s climbout, the pilot informed the controller that he wanted to return to the airport and the controller cleared him to land on runway 02. Witnesses stated that the gyroplane made a left turn towards the downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern for runway 02. About this time a witness heard a “crack” coming from the direction of the gyroplane. The same witness immediately observed the gyroplane descend rapidly towards the ground. The controller reported that the gyroplane appeared to enter a spin during the descent. Witnesses estimated that the gyroplane was between 750 ft and 1,000 ft above ground level before it descended rapidly and impacted the ground.

The gyroplane impacted mud about 1,000 ft west of the departure end of runway 10 at a field elevation of about 330 ft mean sea level. All major structures were accounted for at the accident site. The main wreckage, comprised of the fuselage, rotor, engine, and empennage, was oriented on a northwest heading. A section of the right horizontal stabilizer had separated from the main wreckage and was located 171 ft south of the main wreckage. The engine was partially submerged in the mud along with two of the gyroplane’s four propeller blades. The other two propeller blades were visible above the surface, and both had separated about midspan. Both rotor blades were attached at the rotor hub and exhibited similar impact signatures about 3 ft from their outboard ends. They also displayed black transfer marks about 3 ft from the hub of each blade. One blade displayed blue transfer markings on the bottom of the blade about 3 ft from the outboard end, which corresponded to the paint color of the gyroplane, including the separated right horizontal stabilizer.