Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Bell 206B JetRanger III, N61PH: Fatal accident occurred April 16, 2019 in Fort McDowell, Maricopa County, Arizona

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona

Crashed due to unknown circumstances.

Tre Aviation Corporation

Date: 16-APR-19
Time: 06:32:00Z
Regis#: N61PH
Aircraft Make: BELL
Aircraft Model: 206B
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91

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 

FORT MCDOWELL, Arizona  — There are many questions surrounding the safety of the helicopter that crashed in a field near Fountain Hills on Monday morning, killing two people on board.

The victims have been identified as contract experimental test pilot Rucie Moore and Van Horn Aviation engineering manager Stephen Estes.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety board have confirmed investigators are now looking into the "airworthiness" of the helicopter that crashed.

Court documents show the chopper had a history of trouble.

According to a complaint filed by the Federal Aviation Administration against the Tre Aviation Corporation to whom the aircraft was registered, the helicopter was purchased by an aviation mechanic in Scottsdale in 2004.

Documents state the helicopter was in bad shape. It had no engine and the fuselage was corroded beyond repair. The mechanic used parts from another helicopter he had purchased to rebuild the chopper. Many of the parts used in the repair came from a helicopter with no data plate or deemed ineligible for operation.

Aviation experts say like cars, it is not uncommon for aircraft like planes and helicopters to be "parted out" to rebuild or help reconstruct other aircraft.

The company that Estes worked for "specializes in the design, testing, certification, and manufacturing of composite rotor blades for various helicopters" according to their website.

An NTSB spokesman says investigators are still in the early stages of the investigation, but structural problems and faulty parts are two major areas they will be exploring as they try to piece together the wreckage, and figure out what caused the helicopter to crash.

Story and video ➤

Test pilot Rucie Moore, left, and Van Horn Aviation engineering manager Stephen Estes, right.

FOUNTAIN HILLS, Arizona (3TV/CBS5) -- A Tempe-based aviation company is mourning the loss of two men who were killed in a helicopter crash near Fountain Hills on Tuesday morning. 

Van Horn Aviation said experimental test pilot Rucie Moore and VHA engineering manager Stephen Estes were the only two on board the helicopter when it went down after 7 a.m. near Fort McDowell and Yavapai roads

VHA said Moore was a decorated helicopter test pilot for the U.S. Army and was a professor and helicopter program chair at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Prior to Embry-Riddle, Moore was a decorated helicopter test pilot for the U.S. Army.

Estes graduated from Arizona State University with a master's in aerospace engineering and had been an engineer with VHA for five years. 

Before that, he was "instrumental in the design and analysis of current rotor blades," VHA said.

“We mourn the loss of our friends during this tragic accident,” said VHA president Dean Rosenlof in a statement. “Both men contributed greatly to the design and development of our most recent rotor blade designs. Their passing will leave large holes in our company and they will both be missed personally and professionally.”

To some, Moore was the friend you’re lucky to have.

“It’s a big hit. There’s a lot of people that he touched during his life and he’ll be missed,” said David Allen.

Allen now lives in Alaska, but he and Moore go way back to their Army days.

“Rucie and I met in basic training actually when we started back in ’86,” he said. “He was actually my flight school roommate throughout all of flight school.”

The two became so close during that time, that Moore was a groomsman in Allen’s wedding.

Allen was shocked when he heard what happened.

“I’ll be honest, it brought tears to my eyes,” Allen said.

He wishes he could tell Moore one more thing.

“That’s a tough one…yeah….just gonna miss ya,” he said through tears.

But among the tragedy, Allen has found peace knowing his friend's last moments were spent in the sky.

“At least he was doing what he loved to do, and I can only hope that I can go out the same way,” Allen said.  

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told Arizona's Family that a Bell 206B crashed under "unknown circumstances."

The pair departed from Falcon Field in Mesa before the crash occurred. 

The FAA initially said it believed the pilot was the only person aboard the aircraft. 

Video from our news helicopter showed the aircraft down in a remote field, destroyed. 

The FAA and the NTSB are investigating the crash. 

“Our dear colleague, Rucie Moore, was an outstanding pilot, an Army veteran and distinguished faculty member with deep experience in the flight test arena,” said Dr. Frank Ayers, chancellor of Embry-Riddle’s Prescott campus. “His many contributions to the education of our students, including his extensive real world experience, was immeasurable. The entire Embry-Riddle family, our faculty, students and staff, feel his loss and extend our thoughts and prayers to his family.” 

Story and video ➤


Anonymous said...

No personal attack intended: merely a generic comment prompted by a specific comment in the story.
“At least he was doing what he loved to do, and I can only hope that I can go out the same way,”
As a former military flyer, comments along this line disturb me. In a crash, no conscious person dies doing what they love. That stopped a few moments ago. When the windscreen is full of rocks and dirt and the aircraft is out of control - you are definitely not doing what you love. I don't wish that moment upon anyone.
No intention to start a flame war - your mileage may well vary. Contemplate the comment carefully, please.
RIP to the fling wing flyers who perished.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when people nitpick that comment. Don't be such a pedantic and literal douche bag.

Anonymous said...

It's sad to lose brilliant and gifted aviators. Deepest condolences to families and friends.

Anonymous said...

"I hate it when people nitpick that comment. Don't be such a pedantic and literal douche bag."

I agree with the first poster. Not the way I want to go out. You are the only one coming across as a ... Well, you know.

RIP to the guys lost.

Anonymous said...

I agree too with the first poster, and also that Mr. or Ms. Nitpick Hater was being a jerk.

That said, I did once have to write an obituary for someone killed in a sports accident. It's worth remembering that whoever knew the victim well enough to be tasked with that is going to be affected by the loss. Most obituaries don't stand up to objective scrutiny, and really that's ok.