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N137E accident description

Michigan map... Michigan list
Crash location 42.666667°N, 82.626389°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Attica, MI
43.030305°N, 83.166051°W
37.1 miles away
Tail number N137E
Accident date 03 Oct 2001
Aircraft type Enstrom F-28A
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On October 3, 2001, about 1530 eastern daylight time, an Enstrom F-28A helicopter, N137E, sustained substantial damage when it impacted trees and terrain following an in-flight loss of engine power near Attica, Michigan. The personal flight was operating under 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was on file. The pilot sustained fatal injuries. The flight originated from Omans Heliport, near Almont, Michigan, about 1520, and was enroute to Dupont-Lapeer Airport, near Lapeer, Michigan, at the time of the accident.

The accident airplane's owner stated:

Prior to [the accident pilot's] departure in the aircraft, he and I hovered it for

about 5 minutes.. Aircraft performed fine. I did not see [the accident pilot] put

fuel in tanks but he said that he filled the tanks. I did observe that the fuel

computer was reset to reflect full tanks. When I pulled collective to put the

helicopter in a hover it seemed heavy, as it would with 2 people and full tanks.

After hovering for about 5 minutes, I set it down and shut it off. [The accident

pilot] said he wanted to fly it to Lapeer Airport and that I should meet him there.

He started the aircraft, pulled it into a hover, rolled the nose into a standard

climbout. I didn't observe anything unusual. The last time I saw the aircraft

flying it was headed in the direction of Lapeer Airport at about 300/400 [feet

above ground level] AGL.

A witness, who was a pilot, stated, "Low rotor - R.P.M. Low - Power[.] Observed flying due North from P.T. Auto Sales."

The Lapeer County Sheriff's report stated:

[Another witness] said that the helicopter appeared to be coming from the

southeast and going in a northwest direction and when asked what she

heard about the motor on the helicopter indicated that it was speeding up

and slowing down, and this was all that she had heard. [The witness] said

that the helicopter was not far off the ground or moving fast and figured

about twice [as] high as the trees in the area what were roughly about 100

feet in this area.

[The witness] said that the helicopter was leaning to its left side and

appeared the motor stopped and the helicopter went straight down.

The sheriff's report stated:

[A witness] advised this officer that on 10-3-01 he was out working on his

mailbox at the road edge when he heard the rotor blades of a helicopter

slowing down. He could not see the helicopter due to high trees on his

property, but described it as the whop whop sound that rotors make just

before they stop. [The witness] did not notice the engine noise, but then

heard a crash.

The sheriff's report stated, "[The Arcadia Township Fire Chief] said that he was at the scene of the crash and indicated that he had not smelled any fuel and seen no signs of it leaking."


The pilot held a FAA third-class medical certificate issued April 23, 1997. The pilot listed he had 200 total hours of flight time on the application for that medical certificate. The pilot held a student pilot certificate. The FAA performed a diligent search of their records and did not find any record on the accident pilot having any issuance of any "recreational pilot or higher level airman certificate."


The accident helicopter, N137E, was an Enstrom F-28A, serial number 4. The F-28A is a single-engine, three-place helicopter, with skid type landing gear. A four cylinder, 205 horsepower, Lycoming HIO-360-CIA engine powered the helicopter. The helicopter was equipped with two fuel tanks. Placards on the helicopter showed each tank capacity was 20 gallons. The helicopter owner stated that there was 40 gallons of fuel on board the helicopter at its last takeoff. The helicopter owner was asked for the helicopter logbooks and he stated that the "aircraft logs have not been recovered to my knowledge."


At 1553, the reported Pontiac-Oakland Airport, near Pontiac, Michigan, weather was: Wind 230 degrees at 13 knots gusting to 22 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition few 28,000 feet; temperature 25 degrees C, dew point 8 degrees C, altimeter 29.79 inches of mercury.


An on-scene investigation was conducted. The helicopter was found in a wooded area. The helicopter came to rest on the nose of its cabin assembly. The front of the cabin assembly was crushed aft. The aircraft's GPS was manually turned on. The GPS indicated latitude 42 degrees 40.016 minutes N and latitude 82 degrees 37.635 minutes W. A section of the tail rotor guard was found suspended from a tree branch. The three rotor blades were found attached to the hub. The tail rotor assembly was found intact. Continuity was established to the flight control surfaces. Control continuity was established to the engine. The engine produced a thumb compression at all cylinders. The magnetos produced spark when the engine was rotated with the master switch in the on position. The fuel servo screen was found clean. A liquid was found exiting the unplugged servo screen when the electric boost pump was turned on. About an ounce of a blue colored fluid was recovered from the fuel strainer. Both fuel tanks were found compromised. The airframe revealed no signs of fuel staining. There was no smell of fuel at the accident site. Sections of ground around the cabin were dug up. The ground did not have any smell of fuel. No pre-impact anomalies were found.

A fueling log, marked "100 LL", was found at the departure heliport. A fuel log entry dated October 3, 2001, had a "before" entry that stated, "38.6" and its "after" entry stated, "69.7".


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Lapeer County Medical Examiner's Office on October 4, 2001.

The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Accident Report. The report was negative.


The parties to the investigation included the FAA and Enstrom Helicopter Corporation.

The aircraft wreckage was released to the owner.

NTSB Probable Cause

The reported loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion during cruise flight, the pilot not performing an autorotation, the pilot not maintaining rotor RPM during his emergency descent, and the pilot not maintaining control of the helicopter. A factor was the trees.

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