Saturday, March 09, 2019

Bell UH-1B Iroquois, N64RA: Fatal accident occurred March 08, 2019 in Forks, Clallam County, Washington

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

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

Additional Participating Entities:  
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Des Moines, Washington
Honeywell Aerospace; Phoenix, Arizona 

Location: Forks, WA
Accident Number: WPR19FA091
Date & Time: 03/08/2019, 0705 PST
Registration: N64RA
Aircraft: BELL UH1B
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load 

On March 8, 2019, about 0705 Pacific standard time, a Bell UH-1B helicopter, N64RA, collided with mountainous terrain near Forks, Washington. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, tail boom, and drivetrain. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Iron Eagle Helicopters under provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 133, as an external load operation. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the off airport local flight. The flight originated from a remote location and flew to the contracted logging site about 1/2 miles to the south-west.

According to the logging project manager, this was the first flight of the day for the pilot. The grapple logging operations from the helicopter uses a hydraulic log grapple affixed to a 180 ft Kevlar long-line.

According to one witness, who is a helicopter mechanic, he assisted the pilot in the pre-flight inspection of the helicopter. The mechanic remained in the area and observed a normal engine start, run up and take off. Afterwards the mechanic continued with his morning activities and heard three successive distress calls from the pilot over the company communication radio. The mechanic and three other employees began a search of nearby emergency landing areas. After finding the emergency landing areas empty, one employee hiked to the site where the helicopter was scheduled to perform the grapple logging operations and found the wreckage.

The wreckage was located in a heavily forested, mountainous area about ½ mile north east of the point of departure. The first identified point of impact was directly underneath the wreckage. The debris field was small, consisting of small portions of the main rotor scattered about 50 ft away from the main cabin.

The cabin came to rest inverted on a heading of about 100° magnetic. The tail boom and tail rotor had separated but remained alongside the fuselage. The main rotor and transmission were displaced aft over the engine.

The grapple and long-line remained attached to the cargo hook of the helicopter and extended uphill away from the wreckage.

There was no post-impact fire. The wreckage was relocated to a secure facility for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: BELL
Registration: N64RA
Model/Series: UH1B
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Rotorcraft External Load (133)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCLM, 291 ft msl
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site: 26 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 1°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 5000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots / , Variable
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  6 Miles
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Forks, WA
Destination: Forks, WA 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:

Joshua Meriah Tripp

FRENCHTOWN — An extraordinary man died last week: On March 8, 2019, Joshua Meriah Tripp, 44, went down with his logging helicopter near Port Angeles, Washington. Josh was tireless, compassionate, and magnetic. He gave incredible hugs that wrapped you up in warmth. He listened in a way that made people feel seen. He never hesitated to tell someone how much he loved them.  

Born at the Naval Hospital in Oakland, California, on Aug. 28, 1974, Josh grew up in the Bitterroot Valley. He attended Stevensville Schools and graduated in 1992.

Josh was known for his entrepreneurial spirit and started a lawn mowing business when he was eight years old. He became the youngest person to receive a loan from First State Bank, leveraging the funds to buy a four-wheeler to expand his paper route. As a teenager, Josh built houses. He started a power washing business. After returning from his mission with the LDS Church in San Diego, he bought a logging truck from his dad and ran a successful operation for many years. Later, he became a highly-respected seasonal flood insurance claims adjuster, a position he held in addition to running his own self-loader logging truck company, raising young kids, and, when a conversation with a fellow logger/pilot piqued his interest, learning to fly.

A skilled pilot and inspiring leader, Josh flew a logging helicopter for R&R Conner Aviation of Darby, Montana, and became its chief pilot in 2013. Last July, Josh proudly took flight in his own helicopter as the founder and president of Iron Eagle Helicopter. He had realized his dream and was doing what he loved when he died.

Josh leaves behind the love of his life, Rachelle, and six strong, capable and kind children: Kyleigh, 23, Eylissa, 21, Myles, 19, Ayden, 16, Ellyana, 14, and Brayden, 13. Josh was a devoted father, brother and son. He taught his kids about the value of family, a strong work ethic, respecting others and how to play. Whether it was hunting, fishing, or swimming with dolphins on a family trip to Mexico, Josh knew how to take a step back and truly enjoy the moment together. His last few years, spent with Rachelle, his children and his family, were the happiest of his life.

Josh is preceded in death by grandparents Harry and Betty Tripp; Harold and Claire Johnston, and his Aunt Diane Hamm. He is survived by his wife and children; parents Darrell and Lorie Tripp, sister Alesia Randall and brother-in-law Todd, brother Chad Tripp and sister-in-law Brionn, niece Bailee, nephews Evan, Ryan, Chase and Shea, and the many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who will miss him, every day.

A visitation will be held at Whitesitt Funeral Home on Friday, March 22, 7 p.m. until 9 p.m., and a funeral service will be held at the LDS Church in Stevensville on Saturday, March 23, 1 p.m., burial will follow immediately after at the Carlton Cemetery in Florence. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Log Jam, Inc. (the Montana Loggers Association) at P.O. Box 3193, Kalispell, MT 59903.

Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at

OLYMPIC NATIONAL FOREST — The body of a pilot who died during a logging operation when his helicopter crashed in the West End on Friday morning was carried down a rugged hill from the wreckage Saturday afternoon.

Joshua M. Tripp, 44, of Missoula, Mont., was killed when his UH-1 Huey crashed in the West Twin River area about 7 miles west of Lake Crescent on Friday, said Brian King, Clallam County Sheriff’s Office chief criminal deputy.

Tripp, the president of Iron Eagle Helicopter Inc., was based at a logging camp in Olympic National Forest, authorities said.

No one else was aboard the helicopter.

A team of about 15, which included investigators with the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB), secured the helicopter so that Tripp’s body could be extricated from it, said King, speaking on a cell phone from the crash site on Saturday afternoon.

At 2:30 p.m., Tripp’s remains were carried down a steep, snow-covered hillside to the command center set up about 6 miles up Forest Service Road, King said.

The tools needed to remove his body were back-packed up the hill to the crash site, which was about 500 yards form the command center, King said.

He added that the terrain was so rugged that it had been feared they would have to drop the tools in by air.

Working together were personnel with the Clallam County Search and Rescue team, Clallam County Fire District 1 and Forks Ambulance, as well as the NTSB investigators.

The sheriff’s office is turning the investigation into the cause of the crash over to the NTSB, which will work in unison with the Federal Aviation Administration, King said.

The plan is to begin bringing parts of the helicopter down today, King said.

“It will be an aerial operation,” he said. “We’re trying to take advantage of the weather,” which he described as cold but clear.

He said that, so far, there is nothing to explain why the copter went down. The weather was clear Friday morning, he added.

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, initially investigated.

The Sheriff’s Office said Peninsula Communications received a 9-1-1 call at 7:40 a.m. Friday regarding the crash of a UH-1 Huey helicopter conducting forestry operations in the area of West Twin Road in Olympic National Forest.

Tripp had been conducting grapple-logging operations in Olympic National Forest, hoisting logs he moved to a site before they were put on loaders, King said.

He left the landing pad at the logging site at about 7:30 a.m.

“It was a short time later that he reported going down, and they lost contact,” King said.

“We don’t know if he was actually picking up a log.”

A logger found the crash site at 8:52 a.m. Friday and confirmed that the pilot had died.

A Coast Guard aircraft assisted in the search, spokeswoman Amanda Norcross said.

Olympic National Forest spokeswoman Susan Garner said the helicopter was subcontracted to a logging operation doing work under the KOCC Sale in Olympic National Forest.

An Olympic National Forest Service law enforcement officer was sent to the site, she said.

“We’re all pretty shook up about this,” Garner said.

“It’s a terrible tragedy for everyone.”

Clallam County Sheriff’s deputies, Clallam County Search and Rescue, Clallam County Fire District No. 1 and the State Patrol were in the area Friday morning, said the Sheriff’s Office.

The Port Angeles Disaster Response Team (DART) was activated for the first time for a mission when it was asked to take aerial photos of the crash site on Friday.

Life Flight Network, which moved into facilities at the Port of Port Angeles’ Fairchild International Airport last month, volunteered its services on Friday as well.

Original article ➤


  1. Still waiting for the finale for NTSB report.
    A look at the Engine of N64RA, it defiantly was not running when it hit the trees.
    There weren't any signs of F.O.D.
    The inlet filter was still installed on the engine and the main drive shaft and pulled away from the transmission on impact and was attached to the engine.
    There wasn't any damage to the air cleaner the driveshaft banging on its coast down.
    Also, there was no bits piece of compressor blades and stator coming out the bleed air ports or in the tail pipe. No F.O.D.
    What I do believe is a drive shaft fail in the Fuel Control or there was water in the fuel.
    I'm going with the fuel control failure.
    This is not new, The FAA has a, AD 2006-11-16 on the shaft and the manufacture CHANLEREVANS SB 73-39.
    This AD/SB For Fuel Controls used on medium helicopters, you inspect shafts at 1200 hours of operation. In the fuel controls installed on engines used om the K-Max helicopter the inspection is each 300 operations.
    Now why the difference?
    The KMAX Flight time is mostly external, logging, or water bucket and this type has a lot of power changes or N1 or compressor speed changes.
    The 1200 hour inspection on the medium Bell is A to B flight time a not power change, very wrong if your helicopter is performing external load as in logging. The manufacture should of the use N1 count instead of hours, that's how they came up with the KMAX 300 hour inspection, higher N1 count.
    I have inspected fuel control fuel pump drive shafts used on UH1's carrying out field spraying and have found them close to failure.