Trainee pilot trapped in chopper
A GYROCOPTER training exercise went horribly wrong at Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome on Saturday leaving a 41-year-old Cobar man seriously injured.
The trainee pilot was practising ‘touch and go’ manoeuvres in a single-seater gyrocopter when he crashed ‘obliquely’ into the tarmac just after 3pm.
He was airlifted to Lismore Base Hospital in a serious condition.
NSW Ambulance duty officer Wayne McKenna said the man was suffering a suspected fractured pelvis with major lacerations on the right-hand side of his body.
Distressed gyrocopter enthusiasts at the aerodrome refused to talk on Saturday as the wreckage was removed from the scene in a private car trailer.
Richmond Local Area Command Acting Inspector Paul Fredericks said police attended the scene but now had minimal involvement as the incident was under investigation by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority with assistance from the Australian Sports Rotorcraft Association.
Aviation authorities have previously been criticised for failing to investigate helicopter, gyroplane and ultra light aircraft accidents when there are no injuries or fatalities.
“The 41-year-old gentleman was training to get his solo operators accreditation with an instructor at the time,” Acting Inspector Fredericks said.
“He was conducting lifting and landing exercises when the machine was apparently caught by a large gust of wind lifting it two metres off the tarmac.
“The machine then hit the tarmac a short time later causing it to roll on its side.
“As a result there was extensive damage to the gyrocopter and the pilot was trapped in the wreckage until freed by his instructor who was in the vicinity at the time.”
A nearby occupant in the industrial estate said he had heard all the commotion but didn’t realise it was a crash.
“We see them all the time down at the club there,” he said.
“They do loops and practise those touch and go landings. I reckon it was only a matter of time before one of them came down.”