Pilot dies in gyroplane crash in southwestern Wisconsin

VIROQUA, Wis. (AP) - Authorities in southwestern Wisconsin say the pilot of a gyroplane died when the aircraft crashed into a field near an airport in southwestern Wisconsin.

The Vernon County Sheriff's Office says dispatchers received a 911 call about the crash around 6:30 p.m. Monday at Viroqua Muncipal Airport. Emergency crews quickly located the downed aircraft in the Town of Jefferson.

Firefighters put out a small fire.

Witnesses told police they could see the aircraft leaving the airport, heard the engine stop and saw the gyro descend.

Police say the single rotor detached from the aircraft upon impact, and the body of the gyro continued another 40 feet before coming to rest in a cornfield.

The pilot was the only person aboard the plane. The Wisconsin State Journal reports the pilot's name was not released.

A gyroplane -- or gyrocopter or autogyro -- has an engine-powered propeller on the back of the aircraft, providing thrust. The propeller on top of the aircraft isn't powered; it spins as it's pushed through the air, providing lift.

Federal authorities are investigating the crash, which is routine in aircraft accidents.

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