St. George man killed in aircraft crash

Screenshot of a video posted by Kevin Eaton with the caption, "I got to fly the Gyroplane to Ogden from Brigham City and back for breakfast," on June 13, 2015 | Image courtesy of Kevin Eaton's Facebook page, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A St. George man who was killed in a Gyroplane crash in Nevada Thursday has been identified.

Kevin Eaton, 58, was piloting a kit-built helicopter near a remote Nevada dry lake bed about 75 miles north of Las Vegas when he crashed, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said in a media statement Friday.

"Started Gyro flight training today. Got a couple of hours in today. I didn't break anything. Way too much fun," Eaton posted on his Facebook page on April 16, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Kevin Eaton's Facebook page, St. George News
“Started Gyro flight training today. Got a couple of hours in today. I didn’t break anything. Way too much fun,” Eaton posted on his Facebook page on April 16, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Kevin Eaton’s Facebook page, St. George News

Eaton and a friend trailered the aircraft to Delamar Dry Lake – a dry lakebed located in the Dry Lake Watershed –about 12 miles east of Highway 93, Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said.

The U.S. Air Force now refers to Delamar Dry Lake as “Texas Dry Lake” because of its resemblance to the state of Texas from the air.

At about 10:30 a.m., Eaton’s friend heard an unusual “pop” sound before watching the experimental-style aircraft plunge about 100 feet to the ground, Lee said. Eaton’s friend then notified authorities.

Lee said the crash appears to have been an accident. An autopsy, requested by the Federal Aviation Administration, was planned for Friday.

Eaton held an aircraft operating license, Lee said. However, his experimental aircraft wasn’t licensed. Eaton was piloting a single-seat Gyroplane when he went down.

On Oct. 15, 2015, Eaton posted a video on Facebook captured at the Delamar Dry Lake accompanied with the following caption:

After 3 years of building and training I was finally able to get my Ultralight Gyroplane off the ground. This was also my first solo Gyroplane flight.

While a Gyrocopter, or Gyroplane, looks like a small helicopter, the main difference is there is no engine turning the rotors, according to the Gyrocopter Experience website. The rotors self-propel – or “autorotate” – due to the way that the air flows through them.

The Gyrocopter is capable of flying lower and slower, according to the website, and is safer than most other forms of flying machines.

In the past, Delamar Lake Landing Strip was one of the designated emergency landing sites for the X-15.

In 1962, X-15 pilot Neil Armstrong – later a Gemini and Apollo astronaut – flew an F-104 to Delamar Dry Lake in preparation for an X-15 flight, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The F-104 was damaged in the landing attempt at Delamar when the landing gear began to retract. Armstrong got the plane back in the air and diverted to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • fun bag May 13, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    oh yea, a gyrocopter is a total death trap. gotta make sure ur engine is tip top, and even then…

  • wilbur May 14, 2016 at 11:47 am

    facebook page shows aircraft owned by this fellow.

    looks like ultralight, and, as such, registration not required (under 254 lbs).

    sounds like the “Jesus” nut fell off.

    sad.

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