Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hughes 369D, N163PJ: Accident occurred November 27, 2012 in Sheridan, Oregon

NTSB Identification: WPR13CA057
14 CFR Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load
Accident occurred Tuesday, November 27, 2012 in Sheridan, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/13/2013
Aircraft: HUGHES 369D, registration: N163PJ
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During a Christmas tree harvest, the pilot was repositioning trees from the harvest field onto a truck bed using an 18-foot tag line. He had completed at least five loads before the accident load. During the accident load, the pilot had just released the load onto the truck when he thought the helicopter was encountering a settling with power condition. The pilot maneuvered the helicopter to land on the road in front of the truck. The pilot thought he was clear of the truck; however, the main rotor blades hit the truck just above the cab. The helicopter impacted the ground and the main rotor blades struck and separated the tailboom from the fuselage. The pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the helicopter or engine that would have precluded normal operations.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s failure to prevent the helicopter from entering a vortex ring state (settling with power) condition during an external load operation, which resulted in the helicopter’s main rotor blades impacting the truck.

  Regis#: 163PJ        Make/Model: H369      Description: HUGHES 369D
  Date: 11/27/2012     Time: 2330

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Substantial

  City: SHERIDAN   State: OR   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   1
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

  Activity: Other      Phase: Other      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: PORTLAND, OR  (NM09)                  Entry date: 11/28/2012 


Photo of crash site:  http://www.sheridansun.com

A Christmas tree harvesting helicopter crashed into a truck Tuesday afternoon on top of Cherry Hill, outside of Sheridan, injuring the pilot.

The pilot’s name had not yet been released at press time. Eyewitnesses said he was transported by ambulance to an area hospital with an injury to his head and a possible knee injury.

The land is owned by J Wrigley Vineyards and leased to Holiday Tree Farms, a Corvallis-based company established in 1955 that employs 600 people during the harvest season.

Jody Wrigley, who owns the property with her husband, said she had just returned home with her children from school when the helicopter crashed onto her driveway.

“It happened 10 minutes after my kids were safely home,” she said.

James Jackson, a worker helping with the harvest, spent a year in Iraq and was about 100 feet away when the helicopter came down.

“I knew the sound,” Jackson said. “I knew exactly what it was.”

This was not the first time he’d witnessed a helicopter crash, but the first at a tree farm. Jackson said his first response was to get the pilot out of the aircraft before anything else could happen. Jackson didn’t know the pilot’s name, but said he was coherent.

The pilot was transported to Willamette Valley Medical Center in McMinnville by a West Valley Fire District ambulance.

Multiple emergency vehicles responded to the scene as well as the West Valley medic and Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office deputies and detectives.

LifeFlight was put on stand-by but was not needed.

The scene of the crash that Wrigley estimated happened at approximately 3:20 p.m. was cleared shortly after 4 p.m.

Story and photo:  http://www.sheridansun.com

A McDonnell Douglas MD 500D helicopter, civilian version of the military OH-6 Cayuse, crashed north of Sheridan about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

It was being used to load Christmas trees into trucks at a 164-acre Holiday Tree Farms tract at 19350 S.W. Cherry Hill Road. The tree farm operates on land leased from the adjacent J Wrigley Vineyards, situated atop the hill.

The 29-year-old pilot was conscious, alert and out of the helcopter when emergency services personnel began arriving. He was taken to the hospital, but was not believed to have suffered significant injuries.

Life Flight was placed on standby initially, but medics soon decided its services would not be neceesary.

The hill, encompassing about 375 acres in all, also features a rock quarry and timber stand. It lies about three miles due north of Sheridan on Cherry Hill Road, which intersects Highway 18 at the bottom.

An array of police, fire and medical personnel converged on the scene.Though no fire or fuel leakage was reported, Sheridan Fire District personnel laid out hose lines as a precaution.

The crash occurred just as school was letting out in Sheridan, putting school buses on the road simultaneously with fire trucks and ambulances. Due to congestion and safety issues, buses were unable to immediately deliver students living the vicinity of the crash.

Holiday Tree Farms, based in Corvallis, bills itselt as the largest Christmas tree grower and supplier in the world. It harvests trees on 8,500 acres in all, using a fleet of helicopters.

A blade from the craft that crashed struck a company truck, carving a large, highly visible gash. It was not immediately clear whether that caused the helicopter to come down or was merely a byproduct.

The MD 500D was produced in five- and seven-seat configurations from 1976 to 1982, when it was replaced by the more powerful 500E. Manufactured by Hughes Helicopters, it is also known as a Hughes 369D.

Federal aviation officials were planning to lauch an investigation.


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