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Sebring gyroplane crash kills two, injures one

Two men were killed and another person on the ground was injured when an experimental gyrocopter crashed into a mobile home in Sebring on Oct. 30, 2018. [Highlands County Sheriff's Office]
Two men were killed and another person on the ground was injured when an experimental gyrocopter crashed into a mobile home in Sebring on Oct. 30, 2018. [Highlands County Sheriff's Office]
Published Oct. 31, 2018

The Highlands County Sheriff's Department is investigating a Tuesday gyroplane crash in Sebring that killed two and injured one.

According to the Sherrif's Office, pilot Chris Lord and passenger Christopher Brugger were killed on impact when the aircraft crashed into a mobile home at 2003 Caribbean Road in the Sebring Falls Retirement subdivision just after 2:50 p.m. No one was home at the time, but a man working on a home next door suffered burns to his arms and legs and was transported to a nearby hospital. Two homes on either side of the mobile home were also empty, but were damaged in the crash.

Lord, 45, was flying Brugger, 52, from Sebring Regional Airport to an airport in Manatee County, the Sheriff's Office said.

Witnesses said the aircraft seemed to be "in some kind of distress," then clipped a power line and crashed, according to a Highlands Sheriff news release. The Sheriff's Office is investigating the death while the Federal Aviation Administration investigates the crash.

Lord is the owner of GyroplaneGuy, Inc., a company based out of the Sebring airport that specializes in selling gyroplane kits and training people to fly them. According to its website, Lord was a "pilot, instructor, examiner, test pilot. Chris has flown many aircraft to include fixed wing, helicopter, powered parachute, weight shift trike, and thousands of hours in over 34 models of gyroplanes."

Gyroplanes are small aircrafts that use a rotor to develop lift and are often propelled forward by an engine-driven propeller. They were first developed by Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva in the early 1920s to fly safely at low speeds. Aesthetically, they look like small helicopters, but unlike helicopters, need a runway to take off and land.

Daniel Figueroa IV can be reached at dfigueroa@tampabay.com. Follow @danuscripts.