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N477SH accident description

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Tail numberN477SH
Accident dateApril 28, 2008
Aircraft typeRobinson R44
LocationBartlett, TX
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On April 28, 2008, approximately 1030 central daylight time (CDT), a single-engine Robinson R44 helicopter, N477SH, was destroyed by a post-crash fire after impacting the ground following an attempted takeoff from a private field, near Bartlett, Texas. The pilot received minor injuries and the single passenger sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter was owned and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

In a written statement to the NTSB the pilot stated that, "... the helicopter came off the ground approximately 2 feet, but I felt it was in a malfunction mode, rotated 30 degrees to the left, and set it back down on both skids. While in the malfunction mode, I felt a jar to my left pedal and/or side." The pilot added, that he thought the main rotor blade had hit the tail cone and disintegrated. Seeing a fire in or above the engine area, the pilot told his passenger to exit the helicopter; however, the passenger seemed to have trouble opening the left door. The pilot stated that by the time he exited the helicopter on the right side and walked around the front of the helicopter, the passenger had gotten out of the helicopter and shut the door. The pilot added that the passenger started forward, turned, and walked past the helicopter's rear door and into the fire. The pilot was able to pull the passenger away from the fire. The helicopter's airframe was largely consumed by the post crash fire. The passenger succumbed to his injuries, approximately two weeks later.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, who responded to the accident site, indicated that during the take-off sequence the helicopter’s tail skid/rotor hit an embankment, located just behind the helicopter landing area. Additionally, photographs taken of the site show that the helicopter's main rotor blades displayed a, "coning" effect; the tail rotor drive shaft appeared to be intact prior to the fire, and the tail rotor blades had evidence of a ground strike on them.

The helicopter pilot/owner had purchased the helicopter 7 days prior to the accident date. Additionally, the helicopter was previously owned by a flight school and the helicopter had been disassembled for shipment, while being offered for sale. The accident pilot reportedly bought the aircraft and had a local mechanic re-assemble the helicopter. The condition of the helicopter at the time of sale was listed as "not airworthy", and was sold, "as is." The maintenance records for the helicopter were not made available for this investigation.

An examination of records on file with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airmen's record branch in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed that the pilot held a single-engine (land) private airplane certificate; a rotorcraft certificate was not noted. The record lists his last FAA third class flight medical on February 21, 2006.

Despite several attempts to contact the pilot were made, the pilot failed to submit a completed copy of NTSB Form 6120.1, Pilot/Operator Accident Report.

At 1046, the automated weather observing system at the Georgetown Municipal Airport, (GTU), located approximately 14 miles west of the accident site, reported wind from 290 degrees at 7 knots, 10 miles visibility, a clear sky, temperature 63-degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 36-degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.28 inches of Mercury.

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