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N72LB accident description

Oregon map... Oregon list
Crash location 42.254167°N, 122.838333°W
Nearest city Medford, OR
42.326515°N, 122.875595°W
5.3 miles away
Tail number N72LB
Accident date 06 Jul 2006
Aircraft type Hughes 369A
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On July 6, 2006, at approximately 1655 Pacific daylight time, a Hughes 369A, N72LB, was substantially damaged during a hard landing near Medford, Oregon. The commercial pilot and his three passengers were not injured. The helicopter was being operated under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal, cross-country flight which had originated from a private residence approximately 25 minutes earlier. The pilot had not filed a flight plan.

The pilot said that he flew a high reconnaissance circle over his intended landing site. He observed ripples on a pond which led him to believe that the wind was from the south. During his landing approach, as he descended to 10 to 15 feet AGL, he pulled up on the collective to extend his glide. The pilot said the helicopter started to settle and become very unstable. He "recognized it as settling with power down wind." He leveled the skids and the helicopter hit the ground; he said that 1 or 2 seconds later the helicopter began to lift and turn to the right. He applied left pedal with no response; he then lowered the collective. Subsequently, the left skid tube caught the ground and collapsed, and the helicopter came to rest on its left side. The main rotor blades did not come in contact with the ground or any part of the helicopter, but the tail rotor blades were broken. Additionally the tail boom and tail rotor drive shaft were broken.

The pilot said that after he got out of the helicopter, he noticed that the wind was variable with light gusts. He said that the pond was being filled with water which gave him an incorrect interpretation of the wind conditions for landing.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's misinterpretation of the wind direction (in-flight planning) and subsequent improper descent rate to the ground during a landing attempt. A factor was the tailwind conditions.

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