Agricultural Helicopter Crash Kills Pilot in Kentucky

Monday, July 05, 2010 in Marion, KY
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44, registration: N857PM
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary NTSB information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.
On July 5, 2010, at 1745 central daylight time, a Robinson R-44, N857PM, collided with a guy wire near Marion, Kentucky. The certificated commercial pilot was killed, and the helicopter was substantially damaged by impact forces and post crash fire. The flight was operated as an aerial application flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137, and no flight plan was filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

According to a witness, the pilot was conducting aerial spray operations in a corn field at the time of the accident. He watched as the helicopter took off and flew to the edge of the field to begin a chemical application. As he turned away he heard a loud “pop”, and turned around to see the origin of the noise. He watched as the helicopter became entangled in a guy wire, before colliding with the ground. The helicopter burst into flames, and there was no movement of the pilot in the cockpit.

The pilot, age 55, held a commercial pilot certificate with a commercial-rotorcraft rating. The pilot’s most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical examination was conducted on September 17, 2009, for a second-class medical certificate with limitations for lenses for distance vision. The pilot reported 450 total flight hours on his last medical application, and 100 flight hours within the last six months of his exam. The pilot’s logbook was not available for review, and a determination of his total flight hours has not been verified.

The four-seat, skid equipped helicopter, serial number 1034 was manufactured in 2001. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-540, 250-horsepower engine. The hour meter was destroyed by post crash fire and the current airframe hours could not be determined. There were no aircraft logbooks available for review.

Examination of the helicopter by a FAA inspector revealed that the helicopter collided with a guy wire before colliding with the ground. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit through the tail rotor system and from the cockpit cyclic and collective controls through the main rotor head. The airframe and flight control system components revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction.

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