Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bell 47G Carson Super C-4, N865Z: Fatal accident occurred April 21, 2017 in Timmonsville, South Carolina

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Columbia, South Carolina

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:

James R. Schuster: 

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA164 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, April 21, 2017 in Timmonsville, SC
Aircraft: BELL-CARSON 47G SUPER C 4, registration: N865Z
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On April 21, 2017, about 1630 eastern daylight time, a privately owned and operated Bell-Carson Super C-4 helicopter, N865Z, was destroyed by collision with trees, terrain, and a post-crash fire at a private airstrip in Timmonsville, South Carolina. The private pilot was fatally injured. The local flight departed the Huggins Memorial Airport (58J), Timmonsville, South Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to family members, the purpose of the flight was to conduct a "golf ball drop" at a fundraising event about 13 miles northwest of the accident site.

A witness who was at his private airfield residence located about ¼ mile from the accident site, was outside, heard the helicopter nearby, and thought it may have been approaching his airfield. He was unable to see the helicopter due to the tree line that blocked his view. He said "at first you could hear the rotor blades, then they got quieter and the engine sound got louder." He then "heard the rotors hitting the trees and the explosion of the crash." Shortly thereafter he observed a black plume of smoke rising from his neighbor's yard.

The helicopter was examined at the accident site, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage path was oriented about 325° magnetic and was about 90 feet in length. The initial impact point was in a treetop about 60 feet above the ground at the edge of tree line. The tail rotor personnel guard and left horizontal stabilizer were found near the base of the damaged tree.

The initial ground scar was about 90 feet beyond the first tree strike, and the main wreckage came to rest about 10 feet beyond that point, and about 300 feet prior to the approach end of the grass runway which was oriented 330/150°.

The helicopter came to rest inverted, oriented about 210° and was partially consumed by fire. The tail boom, with tail rotor gearbox attached was separated at the aft center frame, and located about 50 feet southeast of the main wreckage. The right landing skid was separated from both cross tubes and the left skid remained attached to the front cross tube.

The engine, transmission and rotor mast remained together and partially attached to the airframe and rotated about 90° aft. The main rotor hub remained mounted to the mast with both blade grips attached. The wooden main rotor blades were fragmented, with pieces scattered about the crash site. The metal spar and a 10-foot-long section of blade forward of the spar, remained attached to one of the blade grips. The metal spar and a one-foot section of blade remained attached to the other blade grip.

The tail rotor driveshaft was bent upward just forward of the tail rotor gearbox input quill and tree bark was observed in the bend. The tail rotor driveshaft and gearbox would not rotate due to impact damage. After removal, the tail rotor gearbox rotated freely by hand.

Both cyclic control pedestal assemblies were damaged and found separated from their mounts. The assembly found near the left side of the helicopter had the cyclic control stick attached, the one found near the right side of the helicopter did not. Remnants of the collective control stick were found separated from the structure and mostly consumed by fire. The left and right pairs of anti-torque pedals remained attached to one another, separated from the helicopter structure. Two cables were found attached to the damaged tail rotor quadrant, they were continuous to overload breaks at the aft center frame. One cable was found attached to the tail rotor pitch control assembly with an overload break near the forward end of the tail boom. The tail rotor pitch control mechanism moved smoothly when the cable was pulled.

The engine accessory section was damaged and fragments of the engine case were separated, exposing the accessory gears. The starter, hydraulic pump, and both magnetos were separated from the engine and fire damaged. The carburetor was partially attached to the engine, the mixture control remained attached, the throttle control input rod end was fractured consistent with overload. The carburetor heat plenum was separated from its mount, the control cable remained attached to the plenum. The engine remained attached to the transmission.

The helicopter's maintenance records were not immediately recovered and the maintenance history of the helicopter could not be determined. Burned pages consistent with maintenance records were found throughout the area of the main wreckage.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a
private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and rotorcraft-helicopter. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on September 26, 2014, at which time he reported 3,600 total hours of flight experience.

At 1653, the reported weather at Florence Regional Airport (FLO), Florence, South Carolina, about 14 miles east of the accident site included few clouds at 6,500 feet and wind from 220° at 12 knots. Visibility was 10 statute miles, the temperature was 31° C, and the dew point was 15° C.

The helicopter was retained for further examination.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email 

Obituary for Dr. James Robert Schuster

Dr. James Robert Schuster, 60, husband of Helene, father of Taylor, passed away Friday, April 21, 2017 flying his helicopter, which is something he loved to do. For those who didn't know him, and there aren’t many, because he very rarely met a stranger; he was the most loving, compassionate, genuine, and wise husband, father, grandfather, sibling, uncle, son and friend that we could have asked for. He was an amazing man with an infectious smile; he gave the best hugs, and had the ability to immerse you in the most interesting conversations. He was truly a man with a zest for life, which was contagious for all those lucky enough to cross his path. 

Jim was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and was the third of six children born to John and Mary Lou Schuster, whom he absolutely adored and who he was absolutely adored by. He was a graduate of West Florence High School, Francis Marion University, and the Medical University of South Carolina College of Dental Medicine (MUSC). He considered himself to be a lucky man and frequently discussed the blessings in his life. He was also quite proud to have become a dentist, which afforded him the opportunity to help many people. He was a member of the American Dental Association, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Pilot’s Association, the Country Club of South Carolina, and the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. 

His family and close friends are devastated by the loss of a man who was truly larger than life, and ask that you remember him fondly and speak of him often. He will be so greatly missed.

A private memorial service will be held at a later date.


DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee identified the person killed in a helicopter crash near Timmonsville Highway Friday evening.

Hardee says Dr. James R. Schuster, 60, of Timmonsville died in the crash.

News13 crews on the scene say the crash occurred in the Oates community of Darlington County near Lamar.

According to the FAA, a 47G helicopter struck trees and crashed in a field in Darlington about 5 p.m. Friday.

Schuster was the pilot, and the only person on board. The FAA says it will release the aircraft registration now that the victim’s identity is released. The National Transportation Safety Board will determine probable cause.

Story and video:

DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A pilot was killed after a helicopter crashed in a Darlington County field Friday evening, according to Kathleen Bergen with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Bergen said via email the 47G helicopter struck some trees before crashing in the field around 5 p.m. She added the pilot was the only one onboard. 

According to Darlington County Sheriff's Lt. Robert Kilgo, the crash happened at 5636 Oates Hwy. in the Timmonsville area. 

Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee identified the victim as Dr. James R. Schuster, 60,  of Timmonsville. 

The National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause of the crash, according to Bergen. 

Story and video:

No comments: