FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Boston FSDO-61
NTSB Identification: ERA16LA216
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 17, 2016 in Chatham, MA
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44, registration: N141TM
Injuries: 2 Serious.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On June 17, 2016, about 1245 eastern daylight time, a Robinson R44, N141TM, operated by Ryan Rotors, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a pond, following a total loss of engine power while maneuvering near Chatham, Massachusetts. The commercial pilot and passenger were seriously injured. The local aerial photography flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight that originated at Plymouth Municipal Airport (PYM), Plymouth, Massachusetts, about 1200.
Two witnesses reported that the helicopter had been flying low for several minutes, just above trees over select properties. Both witnesses then heard a sputtering or lack of engine noise, followed by a landing that looked like "a controlled crash."
Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the helicopter came to rest on its left side at the edge of a pond. The inspector observed substantial damage to the airframe and also noted that a rocker arm was protruding from the engine crankcase.
The wreckage was retained for further examination.
CHATHAM — Eva Japowicz was doing her bills, writing checks in the kitchen at about 12:45 Friday afternoon, when she noticed a helicopter go past her windows, dropping below tree level.
“It didn’t sound as if anything was wrong,” she recalled.
Then came the thump heard by many in the neighborhood, as the helicopter hit the water close to the marshy edges of Crows Pond. Pilot John Ryan, 48, of Scituate, and his passenger, Tyra Pacheco, 48, of Acushnet both suffered serious injuries. Ryan was initially taken to Cape Cod Hospital, while Pacheco was picked up by a MedFlight helicopter at Barnstable Municipal Airport and flown to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston with critical injuries.
Ryan was transferred to a Boston medical center, according to Cape Cod Hospital spokeswoman Robin Lord.
Eastward Ho! Country Club assistant golf pro Andrew Walkley was on the driving range and noticed the helicopter flying overhead about 10 minutes before it crashed.
“When it went down, it was a really loud thump,” Walkley said. “It was flying pretty low at that point and went over Crows Pond, where it was flying really low and it started coming down and the rotors started to sputter.”
Residents along this scenic part of the Chatham coastline said they are accustomed to seeing small helicopters like this one flying low.
Trees partially blocked his view, but Walkley could see the splash as the helicopter hit the water. Walkley ran down a nearby dock, dialing 911, he said.
“Other people saw it flying around the course and said it just didn’t look right, it didn’t sound right,” Walkley said. “It looked like he knew he was going down.”
The helicopter is owned by Ryan Rotors of Scituate, which flies three helicopters out of Plymouth Municipal Airport.
John Ryan has been flying helicopters since 1985 and has been a flight instructor for 22 years, with over 6,500 accident-free flight hours, according to the Ryan Rotors website. The website advertises services that include aerial tours, photography, golf ball drops and other fundraisers, powerline and pipeline patrols, spraying seeding and lift work.
He started flying helicopters when he was 19 and is married with 3 children, according to the website for Heliops LLC, a helicopter charter company where he worked as well.
Pacheco is an architectural and real estate photographer who shoots aerials, interiors and exteriors, according to her website. Her work has been featured in the Cape Cod Times.
“My journey toward becoming a photographer began with a degree in English, nearly a decade in hospitality management, and several years working as a freelance writer,” she wrote on her website.
The helicopter crashed is listed as a Robinson R44 Raven I, a four-seater. John Ryan and Ross Rossetti are pictured as pilots for Ryan Rotors. A woman who answered the phone listed for Ryan Rotors immediately hung up when a reporter identified himself.
Walkely said golfers and others attempted to cut through one of the pond-side properties and get down to the stricken helicopter.
“The girl was screaming, she was in a panic, and he (the pilot) was trying to help her,” Japowicz said.
Police and firefighters arrived quickly after the crash, witnesses said.
“We had multiple 911 calls,” said Chatham police Lt. Michael Anderson. “Both were conscious on arrival, both still harnessed in the machine.”
Witnesses told police the helicopter was flying at about 100 feet off the water at treetop level, and that there was no smoke, just a sputtering sound that drew their attention.
“Everyone said it was not a violent landing. It looks like the pilot did an excellent job of trying to save the aircraft and themselves because he didn’t put it into the trees,” Anderson said.
An hour after the crash, the helicopter rested partially on the marsh grass, its tail drooping into the water as the harbormaster’s boat deployed a boom intended to corral any spilled fuel. The machine looked flattened into the grass, as though someone had let the air out of an inflatable toy. The cockpit was folded over like a partially closed book.
Several news helicopters hovered overhead.
Rescuers had to cut through the aircraft's metal to free one of the two people inside, said Chatham Deputy Fire Chief Peter Connick.
“They both had multiple traumatic injuries,” Connick said. “They were both very seriously injured, but awake and active.”
Massachusetts State Police, a 42-foot rescue vessel from the Chatham Coast Guard station and a Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod all responded to the scene.
Anderson said the Massachusetts Aeronautics Division of the state Department of Transportation and a representative from the Federal Aviation Administration were expected on the scene Friday and would be conducting the investigation.
As of 5:45 p.m. Friday, Pacheco was not listed in the Massachusetts General Hospital system, according to a spokeswoman for the hospital.
Robinson R44 helicopters have had 364 incidents or crashes investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board since 1994.
Chatham police said a small, two passenger helicopter went down into Crows Pond Friday afternoon.
Police tweeted that there were injuries in the crash.
Two ambulances brought patients to nearby Hyannis Airport where MedFlight helicopters were waiting.
One patient was transferred to the helicopter and transferred to an area hospital.
Another person was loaded onto a second MedFlight, but taken off a short time later and brought to the hospital by ambulance.
Both people appeared to be conscious.
Original article can be found here: http://boston.cbslocal.com
Flying over the crash scene, Sky5 could see the wreckage of the small helicopter at the edge of the water.
Photos from the ground show the bent rotor blades and broken fuselage.
"It wasn't an out-of-control 360-type of crash that was happening," said witness Neil Sullivan. "Just an increase in velocity as it was going. I saw it pass the tree line and heard the thud."
"We saw it was in the water so we ran up the street and down the driveway," said Sarah Holt. "There were a couple people already on the beach."
Reports indicate two people were hurt in the crash. They were put on backboards, carried up a wooden staircase and loaded into ambulances while Sky5 was overhead.
Sullivan said he heard the passenger from the helicopter screaming in pain.
"The pilot was fantastic, keeping the passenger calm, but he was definitely expressing the pain he was in," Sullivan said.
"I could hear the girl moaning and moaning. The man wasn't too much better. He was trying to calm her down," said Eva Japowicz.
The patients were then driven to an airfield where medical helicopters were waiting.
Story and video: http://www.wcvb.com