Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport, Staffordshire
During takeoff from Runway 28 at Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport, the pilot observed that the autogyro took longer than normal to gain speed and he described hearing a noise from the right side of the aircraft. Shortly after takeoff ATC reported that there was debris on the runway. Once this had been removed from the runway, the pilot conducted a flypast of the tower to enable an inspection of the autogyro. Nothing unusual was reported and the autogyro made a normal landing, whereupon it became apparent that the right side of the engine cowling was missing.
The pre-flight inspection checklist for the Rotorsport Cavalon requires removal of the single-piece engine cowling, which is secured by 16 fasteners, 8 on each side. Replacement of the cowling requires all the fasteners to be properly located before any are locked. The pilot reported that after locking the fasteners on the left side of the cowling, he became distracted by a person who had stopped to talk.
Upon resuming the pre-flight inspection, he continued with the remaining items on the checklist, but forgot to lock the right side of the cowling, which subsequently detached from the aircraft during takeoff.