As of May 1st, our fatal accident count now stands at two, with 3 fatalities. On April 16th, a Bell 206 experimental helicopter crashed about a mile south of Fort McDowell while on the last test flight of the main rotor blades before beginning the certification process.
The following is the NTSB official report:
On April 16, 2019, at 0706 mountain standard time, a Bell 206B experimental helicopter, (similar to the one pictured here), impacted an alfalfa field, about 1 mile south of Fort McDowell, Arizona. The commercial pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. The helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to TRE Aviation Corporation and operated by Van Horn Aviation, LLC for research and development flight testing under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed. The second leg of the test flight originated from Falcon Field (FFZ), Mesa, Arizona at 0632.
The purpose of the flight was to evaluate developmental main rotor blades that had been installed on the helicopter. According to the operator, the helicopter was fueled for two test flight legs. The helicopter departed at 0545 for the first event and returned at about 0620, parked on the ramp with the engine at idle, and 100 lbs. of ballast was added to the helicopter. Preliminary radar data showed that the helicopter departed at 0632 to continue the second leg of the test flight. The test flight legs consisted of multiple autorotations at maximum gross weight involving a simulated loss of engine power. The accident flight was the last test flight of the main rotor blades before the certification process.
A witness who was walking to a bus stop, about 1/3 mile northwest of the accident site on Fort McDowell road heard a loud bang southeast of her position. She saw the helicopter falling from the sky and used her phone to video record the helicopter and several other objects descending to the ground before losing site of it behind trees along the road.
Initial examination of the main wreckage revealed postcrash fire and impact damage consistent with a right side-down, nose-level attitude during ground impact. The main rotor hub assembly, vertical tail, tail rotor assembly, tail rotor driveshaft, and forward induction cowl fairing separated from the main wreckage and was found in the debris field. The debris field was about 1 mile long and 1,000 ft wide, covering an area of wooded desert terrain and flood irrigated alfalfa fields. The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.
The helicopter was manufactured in 1981 and was equipped with a Rolls-Royce 250-C20B engine. The helicopter was registered to the owner in January 2019.
The 0654 automated weather observation at FFZ, located about 12 miles to the south of the accident site, included wind from 130° at 5 knots, visibility 10 miles, and clear skies.
Projected safety programs for the month of June:
JUNE 8TH - SW Aviation Weather Symposium, Tempe, location TBD
JUNE 15TH - PRESCOTT @ ERAU 0900, Davis Learning Center
Watch for announcements on FAASAFETY.GOV to register, or you can always just walk in and join in the fun. If your organization or airport community would like to also have a presentation, just contact me through the APA website.
Does work interfere with your life? Do you have a hard time finding time for yourself? Having to go to work is often the curse of mankind, the albatross around our neck. We all need an escape, something to allow us to forget the trials and tribulations of the everyday drudgery.
For the past 47-48 years, my escape was to go fly, go jump into my trusty ‘ol Super Viking and go soar up on top of the clouds, up where the eagles fly, and just “slip the surly bonds of earth,” leaving all my worries back on the ground. Put my wife in the right seat and off we’d go to, to Oshkosh, Sun ‘N Fun, Myrtle Beach, or after moving out to Flagstaff, Salt Lake City, Vegas, Santa Catalina, Santa Fe, or wherever. Even fly off to Denver or Seattle for some consulting work. What a way to go…
When I retired and moved out here to beautiful Flagstaff, I continued my consulting efforts with FAA and industry, and was fortunate to land a part-time instructing job with Wiseman Aviation. Well, here I am 19 years later, still consulting and working, for all practical purposes, full time. Seems I have created a monster work load here in Flagstaff with a following of great friends in the local pilot community and, it seems, a continual influx of new students. I love flying, love teaching new students, and I especially love seeing new students pass their check rides and become full-fledged private pilots, as well as newly minted instrument rated pilots and an occasional commercial or even a CFI rating. IT IS VERY SATISFYING, AND I STAY QUITE BUSY.
But, OK, yes, there is a downside. Nowadays I seldom – very seldom - get to “slip the surly bonds of earth” in my trusty ol’ Super Viking and just go fly with the eagles. I logged over 600 hours last year, but only about 20 hours in my own airplane, and I miss flying my trusty ‘ol airplane. I also do about 6 to 10 safety programs a year for APA, and I like doing them, and I especially like working with Tina and Ernie from the SDL FSDO FAASTeam program. Since joining APA back in ’03 or ’04, I have probably done over a hundred safety programs as either the Safety Program Director or as the Safety Program Director-at-Large I really do enjoy doing the safety programs!!!
But me thinks I am wearing out. I find it harder to keep coming up with new programs, and find it harder to go to work every day. Me thinks I need to slow down a bit and start thinking about smelling the roses (actually all the flowers and lilacs that I found the time to plant around the house on bad weather days!)
However, I am not done yet, just need to slow down a bit, stay a little less involved, a little less busy, a little less on call at the drop of a hat, etc… I need time for myself. All of us do. So, if you see a future newsletter without the GAARMS section, just ask yourself “Hmmm, wonder where Fred and Kelly flew off to now?” And yes, sometimes we do actually DRIVE off to places unknown. We do like road trips, and the Corvette is a great traveling machine for road trips. However, it is getting harder and harder to climb in and out of (unless the roof is off, which it is, a LOT!!).
So, happy trails, and remember, take time to smell the roses, or Av gas, if you like.