NTSB: Rule Violation Contributed To Fatal Midair Collision At EAA AirVenture


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its final report on last year’s fatal midair collision at EAA AirVenture, concluding that the crash occurred when a gyroplane violated event rules by making a prohibited 360-degree turn and collided with a helicopter.

According to the NTSB report, both pilots attended a rotorcraft briefing where event coordinators told gyroplane pilots to stop performing 360-degree turns and spirals while in the traffic pattern. Flight track data, witness testimonies, videos and the damage to the aircraft indicated the gyroplane collided with the left side of the helicopter while performing a 360-degree turn while on the base leg of the visual approach. At the time of the accident, the helicopter was positioned behind the gyroplane in the traffic pattern and was also on a base leg from the south.

The helicopter impacted the ground and came to rest upside down, igniting a post-accident fire, while the gyroplane collided with a parked, unoccupied airplane. The pilot and passenger of the helicopter both died while the gyroplane pilot and passenger sustained serious injuries. The pilot told officials he was unable to recall the accident flight.  

The report stated there were no mechanical issues with the aircraft and the pilot was not under the influence of any substances.

Amelia Walsh
Amelia Walsh is a private pilot who enjoys flying her family’s Columbia 350. She is based in Colorado and loves all things outdoors including skiing, hiking, and camping.


    • Unfortunately so for the Helo pilot and his pax Jethro. As an instructor I’ve seen time and again the dangerous attitude that the rules don’t apply to me.

  1. Seen some bizarre pilot behavior at OSH, including flying the FISK arrival lake-holds opposite the traffic direction, but doing 360’s on base is definitely a head scratcher. Hopefully the new restrictions eliminate any repeat events but for sure I’ll keep a closer eye on overhead traffic when walking near the Ultralight strip from now on.

  2. Good case for a “Civil Suit” negligence and wrongful death. Shame those who died are the innocent. The guilty live on and “say they don’t remember the accident”.

    • “ “say they don’t remember the accident”.”

      Because they probably don’t remember the accident.

      I was in an accident many years ago (the at fault driver made an illegal left turn into oncoming traffic) and I don’t remember the collision nor the 15 minutes before. I remember only snippets afterwards and my memory only comes back about 45 minutes later in the ICU.

      • Yes, but when the person at fault doesn’t remember, one can be excused for accusing him of “motivated amnesia”.

        • I tend not to excuse such foolishness and myopic thought.

          Nowadays, I pity just about any defendant facing a jury of his peers.

  3. I love aviation, love flying, flown into Oshkosh PIC and several times in others aircraft. The arrival is a shit show as is the departure. Surprised more don’t die each year. We just take our chances on the highway with our RV now..

      • Flown in three times and it was really well managed. Guessing there are times it gets messy. Folks flying in need to be regular flyers, not ten hour a year pilots.

        • “Folks flying in need to be regular flyers, not ten hour a year pilots.”

          Unfortunately, there are a lot of the “ten hours a year” pilots flying in to OSH too, along with pilots who fly more than that but simply aren’t proficient to even private pilot standards.

          Fortunately it works out most of the time. But other times, you get arrivals like what happened in 2018 where the arrival was so chaotic that it was basically a free-for-all around the lake. I had so many near-misses that day, I don’t know how there weren’t any mid-airs.

  4. “event coordinators told gyroplane pilots to stop performing 360-degree turns and spirals while in the traffic pattern.”

    Why is that even a thing? Downwind, base, final, land. THAT’S IT. Unless ATC instructs you to perform a 360 (this has happened to me) then why the heck are these guys doing 360’s in the patter? SMH…

    • I’m guessing the gyroplane pilot may have misjudged timing for another landing or departing aircraft and rather than going around, did a 360 for spacing to save the whole 2 minutes a go-around would have cost.