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N9251f accident description

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Tail numberN9251f
Accident dateOctober 28, 1996
Aircraft typeHughes 369
LocationVestaburg, MI
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On October 28, 1996, at 1250 eastern daylight time (edt) a Hughes 369, N9251F, sustained substantial damage when it collided with two three quarter inch diameter, 138,000 volt power lines near Vestaburg, Michigan. The commercial rated pilot was conducting external lifting operations of christmas trees, at the time of the accident. The pilot had just dropped off a load off christmas trees, and was relocating the helicopter from the north side of a field to the south side. The pilot survived the accident, but died less than a week later in the hospital. The 14 CFR Part 133 flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions, and no flight plan had been filed.

A representative from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported to the investigator in charge (IIC), that the power lines were approximately 60 feet above the ground. The FAA representative believed that the post crash fire was caused by the arcing of the electrical wires. The FAA representative reported that the power lines were difficult to see against the background of the trees, and that some of the bundles of christmas trees were assembled near the power lines. FAA Inspectors at the scene found no anomalies with the engine or helicopter airframe.

A witness statement was obtained from a commercial rated helicopter pilot who was assisting the pilot of the helicopter by slinging the trees on the ground. The pilot on the ground reported in his witness statement that he "... heard no abnormal engine noises coming from the helicopter."

Another witness who was interviewed by the local sheriff's department reported to the sheriff that he was watching the helicopter fly southerly when he saw the pilot suddenly duck, as if the pilot had seen the wires coming towards the helicopter.

The rotor head and rotor blades were separated from the helicopter, the body of the helicopter had sustained crushing and fire damage.

Toxicological testing performed by the Federal Aviation Administration, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for all tests conducted.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.