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N361KA accident description

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Crash location 41.861944°N, 72.699722°W
Nearest city Bloomfield, CT
41.844265°N, 72.741484°W
2.5 miles away
Tail number N361KA
Accident date 14 Nov 2001
Aircraft type Kaman K-1200
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On November 14, 2001, about 1543 eastern standard time, a Kaman K-1200 helicopter, N361KA, operated by the United States Department of State, was substantially damaged after impacting the ground during a practice hovering autorotation, at the Kaman Aerospace Corporate Heliport, Bloomfield, Connecticut. The certificated commercial pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the instructional flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, he had just completed a solo hovering autorotation. During the autorotation, he recalled being slow to apply aft cyclic, but the maneuver was completed satisfactory. He then began a second hovering autorotation. As the helicopter descended toward the ground, the pilot applied aft cyclic, and the helicopter began to drift rearward. The pilot increased the collective to stop the decent, and began to concentrate on the aft drift, when the helicopter touched down on the right main and nose landing gear. The pilot added left cyclic to level the helicopter, but due to low rotor rpm, the control input had little effect. The helicopter began to roll to the right, and the main rotor blades impacted the ground. The helicopter came to rest on its right side.

According to the pilot's flight instructor, the accident flight was the pilot's fifth flight of the day, with the first four dual instructional flights being conducted in a Kaman H-43. The last flight was to be conducted solo in the K-1200. The pilot had previously flown the K-1200 four times.

As the flight instructor observed the flight from the ground, he requested the pilot begin practicing hovering autorotations. The pilot positioned the helicopter into the wind, and from a 5-foot hover, performed a hovering autorotation. During the maneuver, the pilot maintained "good" directional control, "but was slow raising the nose" of the helicopter as it descended, and touched down first on the nose wheel, then the main landing gear. After discussing the maneuver over the radio, the flight instructor and pilot agreed the nose of the helicopter needed to be raised sooner, to allow the helicopter to land in a level attitude. The pilot then set up and commenced his second practice hovering autorotation. Once again, the nose of the helicopter dropped downward. As the nose wheel touched down, the helicopter began to rock backwards onto its main landing gear, with the nose rising back into the air. The helicopter rocked forward, and tilted to the right, with the right main and nose gear on the ground. The helicopter remained in the tilted position and the instructor radioed to the pilot "to lower the collective," but received no response. About 5 seconds later, the helicopter continued to slowly roll over onto its right side. The main rotor blades impacted the pavement and the helicopter came to rest with the engine running. The pilot evacuated, and once the remaining portions of the main rotor blades stopped turning, the flight instructor ran to the wreckage, and secured the engine.

The recorded weather at a nearby airport, about the time of the accident, included winds from 210 degrees at 7 knots.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control while hovering. A factor related to the accident was the pilots lack of experience in type of aircraft.

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