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N59HS accident description

Oregon map... Oregon list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Lakecreek, OR
42.422352°N, 122.626144°W
Tail number N59HS
Accident date 07 Mar 1995
Aircraft type McDonnell Douglas 369E
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On March 7, 1995, approximately 1340 hours Pacific standard time, a McDonnell/Hughes 369E, N59HS, being operated/flown by an airline transport pilot, was destroyed during collision with terrain while in a hover, near Lakecreek, Oregon. The pilot sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions existed and no flight plan had been filed. The flight, which was an instructional student solo, was to have been operated in accordance with 14CFR91, and originated from the Medford Airport, Medford, Oregon, approximately 1225. The pilot departed approximately 1225 from the Medford Airport on a local practice flight and failed to return. An ELT (emergency locator transmitter) signal was picked up late in the day and the aircraft was subsequently located just before 0800 on March 8. There were no known witnesses to the accident, however, a witness did report observing the aircraft maneuvering near his location early in the afternoon of March 7th (refer to attached statement). The witness's description was consistent with a rotorcraft engaged in practice auto-rotation maneuvers.


The near 10,000 hour airline transport pilot did not have a rotorcraft rating at the time of the accident. His logbook showed approximately 70 hours total of rotorcraft time (44 hours in the Hughes 369E) and 37 hours pilot-in-command rotorcraft time (all in the Hughes 369E). His logbook indicated that he had commenced rotorcraft flight training on August 11, 1993, and had made 72 flights in various rotorcraft at the time of the accident.


According to personnel at Medford Jet Center, the aircraft was topped off with 38 gallons of Jet A fuel shortly before its departure on the day of the accident.


The aircraft crashed at a location bearing 065 degrees magnetic and 12 nautical miles from the Medford Airport. The latitude and longitude of the site was 42 degrees 23.720 minutes north and 122 degrees 37.031 minutes west at an elevation of approximately 2,250 feet above mean sea level (msl). The terrain at the site was characteristic of gently rolling hills populated with occasional deciduous trees and the slope of the terrain was approximately -2 degrees toward the north. The wreckage was observed situated almost directly beneath transmission lines oriented along a 018/198 degree magnetic bearing line (refer to photographs 1 through 4). The poles carried three wires arranged vertically. The bottom-most line, a small telephone transmission line positioned 26 feet above ground, was observed to be separated (refer to photograph 5) while the two upper lines (32 and 40 feet above ground) remained intact. The rotorcraft was located near the midpoint between two of the poles separated by a distance of nearly 400 feet (refer to Supplement, I, page 3). There was no evidence of longitudinal/ lateral wreckage displacement across the terrain. All five main rotor blades were observed to have separated from the main rotor hub assembly (refer to photograph 6). Four of the blades were observed in close proximity to the fuselage. A fifth blade was located 280 feet due north of the fuselage. This blade was observed to have wire strike marks at the outboard end on the leading edge. The abrasions were observed to be super- imposed on top of mud and dirt adhering to the blade's surface (refer to photographs 07). The tail rotor 90 degree gearbox and rotor blades were observed lying on the ground a short distance north of the fuselage (refer to photograph 8). All major airframe components were located and found near the fuselage. The tail boom was observed to be severed along a production seam just forward of the vertical fin/horizontal stabilizer (refer to photograph 9). The stinger tube at the bottom of the lower vertical fin was observed to be absent. An area of scorched soil and burned grass was observed directly behind the aircraft engines exhaust (refer to photograph 10) and a section of the tail rotor drive shaft was observed to have been expelled from the tail boom (refer to photograph 11). The aft end of the drive shaft section was separated in bending and twisting, whereas the forward end had been separated in a cutting fashion consistent with extended rotation of the drive shaft against a bearing surface (refer to photographs 12). Two prominent gouges in the soil were observed a short distance west of the fuselage (refer to photograph 13). The gouges were observed to parallel one another and were oriented along an east/west bearing line. The northernmost gouge (the larger and deeper of the two) contained fragments of red paint (chips) matching the red paint on the tail rotor blades. The southernmost gouge was observed to be smaller and more clearly defined. Imbedded within this gouge was the "stinger" tube which protrudes from the bottom of the rotorcraft's lower vertical stabilizer (refer to photograph 14). Additionally, a longitudinal gouge oriented along a 092/272 degree magnetic bearing line was observed slightly north of the fuselage (refer to photograph 13). This gouge was found to be similar in length to the left skid. The soil south of the gouge was raked/smeared smooth, characteristic of the skid dragging south or rotating clockwise (from above). The helicopter's right skid was observed to have folded under the belly of the aircraft. An arc-shaped gouge was observed on the south side of the fuselage within the upsloping terrain (refer to photograph 15). The radius of the arc from the main rotor hub assembly was approximately consistent with the length of the separated main rotor blades.


Post mortem examination was conducted by James N. Olson, M.D., at the facilities of Conger Morris Funeral Home, Medford, Oregon, on March 8, 1995. Toxicological evaluation of samples from the pilot was conducted by the FAA's Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory. All tests were negative (refer to attached report).


On site examination of the wreckage was accomplished on the afternoon of march 9, 1995, after which it was verbally released to the aircraft owner. Written wreckage release is documented on NTSB Form 6120.15 (attached).

NTSB Probable Cause


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