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N49578 accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Salem, OH
40.860889°N, 83.349367°W

Tail number N49578
Accident date 08 Jul 1996
Aircraft type Bell 206B
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On July 8, 1996, at about 1100 eastern daylight time, N49578, a Bell 206B helicopter, owned by Chillingsworth Ventures, LTD, in Canton, Ohio, and operated by Mid Ohio Aviation and Ohio Air Affairs Aviation, Canton, Ohio, as an aerial photography and observation flight, collided with the ground in an open field at Salem, Ohio. Visual meteorological conditions existed, and no flight plan was filed. The certificated commercial pilot and four passengers were fatally injured, and the helicopter was destroyed. The local flight was operated under 14 CFR Part 91, and departed Salem Airpark, Salem, Ohio, at about 1040.

The helicopter was certified for 14 CFR Part 91, operations, however it was chartered to perform a photographic mission at the Little Beaver Creek, near Salem, Ohio. The helicopter departed Wayne County Airport, Canton, Ohio at approximately 0900, and flew to Salem Airpark to pick up the four passengers. The helicopter crashed in an open field near Little Beaver Creek.


The pilot held a Commercial certificate. He had Commercial pilot privileges for airplane single engine land, helicopter and instrument helicopter. The pilot also held a flight instructor certificate for helicopters. The pilot's logbook was not recovered. The pilot reported 7,352 civilian flight hours in all aircraft on the application for the most recent medical certificate, which was dated September 1, 1995. The pilot's last proficiency check was undetermined due to the lack of a current logbook. NCIC Records provided by the Ohio State Highway Patrol revealed that the pilot had 2 previous convictions for driving while under the influence (DUI) of alcohol/liquor. The first one occurred on December 17, 1979, and the second occurred on August 10, 1987. In addition, the records revealed that on December 15, 1993, the pilot was fined for speeding.


The Bell 206B, S/N 1856, was manufactured and certificated in 1975. FAA records indicate that the helicopter was registered to the current owner on May 14, 1996. The registration document was signed by the President of Chillingsworth Venture, LTD. The helicopters maintenance records indicated that the most recent inspection was an Annual and 1200 hour Inspection, which was dated May 7, 1996. The helicopter had accumulated a total time of 13,707 hours at the time of the accident, including 33 hours since the Annual Inspection. A review of aircraft maintenance logbooks revealed no evidence of discrepancies.


Visibility was 10 miles and clear. Winds were 010 degrees at 6 knots. Altimeter was 29.77 millimeters of mercury and the temperature was 77 degrees Fahrenheit.


According to witnesses the helicopter left the Salem Air Park at about 1040 and flew south. It was next observed by a witness as flying very low, as if trying to land in a field at Pine Lake Road and Allen/Kent Roads, facing north. It crossed Pine Lake Road and came back very close to the ground, beside the middle fork of the Little Beaver Creek. Another witness said that it continued north at tree top level between Kent Road and the Creek. It then went north along the creek towards SR165. Another witness said that south of Calla Road and West of SR45 it turned southeast coming over SR45, north of Middletown Road, then west of US62, and appeared to be in trouble, it reversed course and crashed at about 1100.

Witnesses also reported that the helicopter was loud and was hovering and circling over the tops of 70 to 80 foot tall trees and power lines. Witnesses stated that at times the helicopter appeared to tilt to the left. The helicopter was observed slowly spinning with what was described by witnesses as a low main rotor RPM as it went behind the trees. The aircraft impacted the ground in a near vertical descent.

One witness stated that she heard the helicopter and looked up, she said "it was in trouble, it was spinning around as it went down and I heard the crash." When asked if the helicopter sounded normal she stated, "no, I don't think so. That's what got my attention first." When asked to describe the spin she stated, "Slowly going in a circle. I heard the noise and said it has problems I looked up and saw it spinning."

Another witness stated that she was on US 62, just past the 165 intersection and saw the helicopter teeter and then spin. She said she didn't see anything after it went behind the trees, but did hear a faint thud noise. She was asked what she meant by "teeter." She said the helicopter went "side to side" however, it wasn't bad or else she would have known it was in trouble. She was asked to describe the spin, she said that "it just slowly spun about 3 to 4 times before it went behind the trees."

Another witness stated that he was northeast bound on US 62, when he saw a helicopter northeast bound parallel to him. He said it was about 3000 feet up and descending. He said he was "just south of Middletown road and lost sight of it until he went a little further north." He said when he saw it again it was "much lower about 800 to 1000 [feet], still northeast bound." He said it then "turned 180 degrees and the nose went up then it started down. The main rotor was still moving but you could see it had slowed as you could see the blades." He said he lost sight of it in the trees.


The helicopter remained intact and all components were identified. However, the fuselage was crushed as a result of the vertical impact. The entire transmission deck, and engine compartment collapsed downward on the passenger compartment. The baggage compartment was completely collapsed. The lower honeycomb shell had separated in four places, and the wind screen was broken out. Both skid tubes were fractured at the cross tube saddles. The aft cross tube was driven up into the airframe to a point above the fuel cell. All four doors were twisted. The cockpit seat, seat pans were twisted and the under seat control tubes were forced into the seat pans. The rear seat pan structure was bent, twisted, and torn. The right front lap belt attachment fitting separated from the bulkhead.

Examination of the fuel system found that the fuel cell was destroyed when the cross tubes from the skids were driven up through the cell at impact. The fuel shutoff valve was found in the open position which corresponded with the fuel on/off switch. It functioned properly when electrical power was applied. The fuel filter was found clean with no contamination. Examination of the hydraulic system found the filters clean, the fluid level full with no visual contamination. The reservoir case cooling fins on the lower right side of the case were broken off, and the hydraulic pump shaft had separated at the transmission. Examination of the flight controls found continuity between the fractures. The forward and aft cyclic was destroyed below the roof. The pilot's cyclic stick was broken off 6 inches from the base. The pilot's collective was broken off at the base and the control head was also broken in half. The pilot's foot pedal assembly was torn from the floor mounting. All of the throttle controls were destroyed below the engine deck and the pilot's twist grip was found in the off position.

Examination of the main rotor hub found no damage. Both main rotor blades impacted the ground at the 0700 and 0900 o'clock positions. The first blade strike caused one blade to fracture just outboard of the blade root doubler and it bent rearward over the root end. The second blade was bent when the fuselage rolled to the left and the blade stuck in the ground. Neither blade spar was bent rearward nor coned upward.

Examination of the engine found it intact within the engine compartment. There was a dent in the left underside of the outer combustion case, and a puncture near the aft plug. Both rotor systems, N1 and N2, rotated and were continuous. A fuel system vacuum check was done per Allison DIL 57, there were no leaks. The engine was removed and shipped to Allison Engine Company, Indianapolis, Indiana for further testing. The test was conducted on October 1, 1996. The engine was installed on a test stand and run through a normal final acceptance check. The engine passed all tests which included the Anti-ice air check, Vibration Scan, Governor Droop Check, Take off power, Accelerations and decelerations.

Postaccident examination of the Master Caution Light Panel revealed no evidence of stretching of the light bulb filaments. See Metallurgist's Factual Report. Photographs, witness statements, wreckage documentation, and engine run and component examination reports are appended.


Aircraft Basic Weight 1864.0 lbs as of 5/7/96 Pilot Weight 170.0 lbs Fuel 96 gals@6.9 lbs/gal 663.0 lbs Take-off weight from Wayne County 2697.0 lbs

Fuel burn to Salem, 0.6 hr at 30 gal/hr. -120.8 lbs Landing weight at Salem 2576.2 lbs

4 Pax & Cargo 730.0 lbs Gross weight take-off at Salem 3306.2 lbs

Max allowable take-off weight 3200.0 lbs Internal Max allowable take-off weight 3350.0 lbs External

0.5 hr fuel burn to crash (15 gal) -103.5 lbs

Gross weight at time of crash 3202.7 lbs

Calculation for gross weight and density altitude using out-of-ground hover charts for continuos power.

Max allowable gross weight 2925.0 lbs According to Bell Helicopter


An Autopsy and toxicological examination of the pilot was conducted by Dr. David M. Kennedy, M.D., Coroner of Mahoning County, Ohio. Annex Building, 2801 Market Street, Suite 221, Youngstown, Ohio 44507, (216) 740-2175. The toxicology report detected the following:

Whole Blood Ethanol 158 mg/dl Urine Ethanol 273 mg/dl Vitreous Ethanol 237 mg/dl Bile Ethanol 202 mg/dl

A Postaccident toxicological examination was performed by the Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA) Civil Aeromedical Institute, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report was negative for Carbon Monoxide and Cyanide, and detected the following:

194.000 (mg/dl) Ethanol detected in Blood 234.000 (mg/dl) Ethanol detected in Vitreous Fluid 176.000 (mg/dl) Ethanol detected in Brain Fluid 274.000 (mg/dl) Ethanol detected in Urine


At the request of the FAA and Allison Engines, the engines Fuel Control and Power Turbine Governor were sent to Chandler Evans the manufacturer for further evaluation and testing. On November 20, 1996, and January 7, 1997 the units were bench tested and partially disassembled for inspection in the presents of an FAA Inspector. See attached inspection report.

Examination of a Operations Safety Notice issued by Bell Helicopter on October 31, 1983, found that the pilot was operating in an environment conducive to loss of tail rotor effectiveness. In addition, Toxicology results provided by the coroner and the FAA indicated that the pilot was impaired with alcohol.

The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on July 10, 1996.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.