Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Hughes 369D, N338HW, Heliwild Investments LLC: Accident occurred February 12, 2018 in Heber City, Wasatch County, Utah

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City

Heliwild Investments LLC:  http://registry.faa.gov/N338HW

NTSB Identification: GAA18CA127
14 CFR Public Aircraft
Accident occurred Monday, February 12, 2018 in Heber City, UT
Aircraft: HUGHES 369, registration: N338HW

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

Rotorcraft experienced wildlife rotor strike.

Date: 12-FEB-18
Time: 22:53:00Z
Regis#: N338HW
Aircraft Make: HUGHES
Aircraft Model: 369D
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
State: UTAH

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The case of an elk that died after it leapt in the air and brought a low-flying research helicopter down in Utah highlights the use of helicopters in wildlife monitoring, which has been criticized by animal-rights groups but praised as effective by wildlife managers.

The sound of the chopper blades and the wind kicked up by the helicopters can be terrifying for animals, said Jennifer Best with the group Friends of Animals.

"They're loud and they're scary and it's dangerous to the various wildlife that's impacted, and, as this demonstrates, can also be dangerous to the personnel who are operating the helicopter," she said.

She called for the use of less-invasive monitoring tools, like cameras or video monitoring.

The helicopter crew was trying to capture the elk with a net to fit it with a tracking collar before the Monday crash in the mountains about 90 miles (145 kilometers) east of Salt Lake City.

Wildlife officials said it was a fluke accident during an otherwise by-the-book operation. The two people on board were not seriously hurt, but the elk died after jumping into the chopper's tail rotor.

The helicopters are the best way to reach remote wildlife, and the tracking collars placed on elk gather the most detailed information on animals so managers can keep herds healthy, said Mark Hadley with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

That information is used to determine the number of hunting licenses the state can offer and minimize interactions with farmers, he said. The animals are not threatened or endangered in Utah.

The state captures more than 1,000 animals a year and the vast majority are unaffected by the procedure, he said. Crews use nets rather than tranquilizer guns on elk because they don't respond well to the drugs.

It's illegal for private helicopters to chase wildlife in Utah, but Hadley said crews contracted by the state crews are highly trained and know how to get in and out quickly to minimize any disruption to the animals, he said.

Most of the division's work is paid for from hunting and licensing fees.

Wildlife groups are also objecting to a plan to use helicopters to monitor mountain goats and bighorn sheep in another part of Utah designated as wilderness area. Kirk Robinson of the Western Wildlife Conservancy said the main concern is that aircraft would disrupt the untouched quality of the area, but the crash also highlights concerns about the dangers of helicopters in mountain terrain, where cleaning up any debris would be a big challenge.

Wild-horse advocates have long opposed use of helicopters in roundups intended to shrink the size of herds that federal land managers say are overpopulated in many parts of the West.

They say the sound and wind created by the machines terrifies and can injure the horses. But most judges have sided with federal land managers who say the helicopters are efficient and the risks are low.


WASATCH COUNTY, Utah – Authorities are investigating after an elk brought down a helicopter in Wasatch County.

According to the Jared Rigby with the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office, authorities received a distress signal from the aircraft at about 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Search and rescue teams and Fruitland EMS responded to the remote area near the Current Creek Dam.

“A helicopter crew was in the process of capturing Elk for the state of Utah,” Wasatch County Search and Rescue wrote. “The cow elk somehow jumped up and hit the tail rotor of the chopper. This almost severed the tail rotor and ended the flight of this chopper.”

The two people who were aboard the helicopter suffered minor cuts and bruises.

The helicopter is a total loss.

“Not something you see every day when an Elk brings down a chopper,” search and rescue wrote.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has been tracking the migration patterns of the elk and contracted the pilots.

DWR officials said the elk did not survive the incident.


FRUITLAND, Duchesne County — A pilot and passenger from Australia sustained only small cuts and bruises when an elk jumped and severed the tail rotor of their helicopter Monday evening near Currant Creek in Wasatch County.

The pair was attempting to net the animal, Wasatch County Search and Rescue said on Facebook.

Few details were immediately released, and it was not clear how the elk fared. First responders from Fruitland evaluated the two aboard the helicopter.

"Not something you see every day when an Elk brings down a chopper," the rescue group wrote in the Facebook post.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources was investigating.

Story, video and photo gallery:  https://www.ksl.com

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