Monday, June 03, 2019

Robinson R44 Raven II, N41351: Fatal accident occurred June 02, 2019 in Cass, Franklin County, Arkansas

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Little Rock, Arkansas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Cass, AR
Accident Number: CEN19FA160
Date & Time: 06/02/2019, 1950 CDT
Registration: N41351
Aircraft: Robinson R44
Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Aerial Observation - Sightseeing

On June 2, 2019, about 1950 central daylight time, a Robinson R44 helicopter, N41351, impacted terrain near Cass, Arkansas. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured, and one passenger sustained serious injuries. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to and operated by D&C Aviation LLC under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a sight seeing flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from an open field at an undetermined time.

After the helicopter was overdue, a search was conducted, and the wreckage and survivor were located. The helicopter collided with trees and came to rest in rugged, heavily wooded terrain.

The helicopter was documented on-scene and recovered to a secure facility for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Robinson
Registration: N41351
Model/Series: R44 II
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: D & C Aviation Llc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: KFSM, 449 ft msl
Observation Time: 1951 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 36 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 21°C / 19°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 800 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 100°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 10000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.71 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 35.705278, -93.795000

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 

 Charles "Chuck" E. Dixon

This Small Business Owner Shows You Tulsa Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

May 20th, 2019

If you live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, look up in the sky at any given time and you might spot Chuck Dixon. As the owner and head pilot for Tulsa County Helicopters, Dixon has made it his business to show you the Tulsa area like you’ve never seen it before.

“I’ve been up in the air millions of times but it never gets old for me,” says Dixon, a Kansas native who has lived in Oklahoma most of his life. “Especially because I get to see the reactions of our customers every day. For them it’s a really exciting experience.”

For Dixon to be able to make it in the complicated and expensive world of commercial aviation, it took years of hard work, help from friends, and more than a few lucky breaks. Here’s how he took an enthusiasm for flying and turned it into one of the top-rated helicopter tourism companies in the state of Oklahoma.

Flying From an Early Age

Dixon’s first exposure to aviation came with the Cessna CH-1 Skyhook. When the CH-1 Skyhook debuted in 1956, it set the world record for helicopter altitude. However, it never became a commercial success, and in 1962 Cessna decided to buy back all CH-1 Skyhooks and have them destroyed. The man tasked with rounding up and destroying the helicopters was Dixon’s father.

“It was the ugliest helicopter you’ve ever seen, but I always wanted to fly it,” Dixon says. “Instead I got to watch my father spend all his time destroying these helicopters—and then I go on to become a helicopter pilot.”

The idea of flying stuck with Dixon as he grew up. As a teenager he started flying small fixed-wing airplanes. At age 20, he decided to try for his airplane pilot’s license. But then he abruptly quit before completing the requisite training. The problem? Flying airplanes bored him.

“With an airplane all you have to do is point it into the wind, give it gas, and it flies,” explains Dixon. “After you get it out you can kick back, smoke a cigarette, read a book, and do whatever you want. Flying a helicopter, on the other hand, is the ultimate multitasking experience—both hands and feet are involved at all times.”

Dixon drifted away from flying for a time and transitioned into another career that kept him high off the ground—working as an electrical lineman for a utility company in the Tulsa area. The idea of flying helicopters stuck with him, though, and in 2006, after he had saved a bit of money, he decided to take a crack at his helicopter pilot’s license.

“I heard an ad for a Tulsa helicopter school explaining that there was a shortage of helicopter pilots in the area because so many veterans were retiring,” says Dixon. “So I decided to give it a whirl.”

He laid out $70,000 in tuition, but before he could get his license, the school went bankrupt. He eventually finished out his training at another school in 2008, and became a licensed helicopter pilot.

Helicopter Side Hustle

Dixon hoped his license would open up a bunch of new job opportunities, but he quickly learned that large commercial helicopter companies prefer candidates with many more years of flight experience. So Dixon decided that if he couldn’t find work, he was going to make work for himself. He began renting a helicopter from the school where he got his license and flying it to music festivals, county fairs, and other outdoor events. When he got there, he’d offer attendees five minute helicopter rides for $40 a pop.

“It was a great way to fly without having to pay for it because renting a helicopter is expensive,” Dixon says. “I also gained a lot of experience, one five-minute ride at a time.”

He eventually recruited his friend, fellow pilot Dustin Stone, and girlfriend, Becky Woodward, to assist him at events. Dixon and Stone would fly the helicopter, and Woodward would provide customer service and safety instructions.

In 2012 Dixon and Stone decided to take their weekend hustle to the next level by forming the partnership DNC Aviation (Stone left the business in 2016 to become a news channel helicopter pilot). Under DNC Aviation they formally launched their business—Tulsa County Helicopters. Dixon identified three sources of revenue for Tulsa County Helicopters: entertainment flights (like the ones they were doing at county fairs), flight lessons, and commercial flying.

But for the business to really “take off,” Dixon, Stone, and Woodward knew they needed to purchase their own helicopter. That’s how they found Bonnie Harmon, a local woman who was looking to sell a helicopter she had won in a divorce settlement. Dixon was able to strike an equipment financing deal with Harmon: He leased the helicopter from her until he could pay back the full $500,000 price tag on it. In 2014, DNC Aviation was able to pay off the helicopter in full—a Robinson R44 Raven 2.

Once they had unencumbered access to a helicopter of their own, Dixon, Stone and Woodward were able to take on a lot more events. They were also able to pick up commercial jobs inspecting power lines for Oklahoma Gas and Electric and performing emergency patrols after bad storms. Today, Tulsa County Helicopters operates out of a hangar at Richard L. Jones Airport on the outskirts of downtown Tulsa. Dixon still keeps his full-time job as an electrical lineman, but the business is doing so well he’s contemplating an early retirement.

Dixon and Woodward
(Source: Tulsa County Helicopters)

Flying With Tulsa County Helicopters

Tulsa County Helicopters offers its customers a menu of flight options. The most popular option is the “Tulsa Metro Tour.” For $265, Dixon will take up to three people on a 20-minute aerial tour of downtown Tulsa. On days when it’s not windy he’ll even fly in between buildings, and deposit passengers near an outdoor shopping area along the Arkansas River.

“The great thing about Tulsa is that we have a very interesting skyline in the downtown area with lots of art deco buildings,” says Dixon. “It looks beautiful during the day and night.”

This flight is especially popular during Christmas, when downtown Tulsa lights up with an elaborate Christmas display.

“The only way to get a good look at all the Christmas lights is from the air,” Dixon says. “We’ll probably gives tours to over 1,000 passengers in December alone.”

Other flight options include the “Exotic Car Ride & Helicopter Flight,” in which you get driven to the helicopter in an Aston Martin or Lamborghini, go on a 15-minute flight, and then get to pose for a photo shoot with the car and helicopter. The “Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Flight” gives a group of people a direct flight to the nearby Hard Rock Casino, where they can gamble for the evening and then be flown back to town. Tulsa County Helicopters also offers training flights, and even drone pilot lessons. Other options include flights to private dinners and proposal flights.

“We’ve also had two in-flight weddings,” Dixon says. “It’s always really special to be a part of that.”

Overall, Tulsa County Helicopters averages about one flight per day. After Stone left, Dixon hired a second pilot, Brian Askew, to assist with increased demand. Tulsa County Helicopters has also leased a second helicopter, and Dixon sometimes even rents a third helicopter when demand is really high.

“We’ve gotten to the point where the entertainment flights bring in enough money to support the business,” Dixon explains. “Now it’s just a matter of sustaining the flight school and commercial work we do.”

The Cost of Running a Helicopter Business

Operating a helicopter business comes with extremely high margins. Tulsa County Helicopters’ operating costs include gasoline for the helicopters, rent for the hangar, and the bi-annual renewal of the business’s Part 135 Certificate—a requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for commercial businesses. Another requirement is that Dixon and Askew belong to a drug test consortium, and submit to random drug tests at any time.

“Friends always ask for rides and say they’ll pay for the gas,” Dixon says. “But gasoline barely scratches the surface of our operating costs.”

Tulsa County Helicopters’ two biggest annual expenses are for insurance (Dixon says his 2018 insurance bill was $82,000) and maintenance of the helicopters. The FAA has strict requirements in terms of equipment for Part 135 operators. For the helicopter his business owns, Dixon has to submit to FAA inspections for every 50, 100, and 2,200 hours of flight time. During the 2,200-hour inspection, the FAA performs a total teardown and rebuild of all major components of the helicopter. This costs about $250,000.

“Basically for every hour we fly the helicopter we have to take $100 and stick it in a hole because we are going to have to spend that money rebuilding the helicopter,” Dixon says.

Financing for an Unanticipated Expense

The first 2,200-hour inspection on Tulsa County Helicopters’ Robinson R44 Raven 2 came this past winter. Dixon had put aside the $250,000 needed for the rebuild, but when he delivered the parts to the inspection site, he learned that the FAA charges a $38,000 deposit, which isn’t refunded until the inspection is complete—typically about two months later.

“It was a downfall of budgeting on my part,” Dixon says. “When you are spending $250,000, $38,000 is handy to have around.”

In order to keep his business afloat during the inspection period, he needed a bridge loan. So he went online and found Fundera. After submitting his information through the site, he worked with loan specialist Mohammed Rahman to secure multiple short-term loans with Kabbage, Fundbox, and PayPal for a total of $70,000.

“I got great terms and the process was very easy,” Dixon says. “Plus, the loan is a perfect fit for what we needed.”

Flying Into the Future

Dixon has plans to purchase a new helicopter to add to his company’s fleet by the end of the year. Within the next five years he plans to retire and work on Tulsa County Helicopters full time. He currently spends about three days flying each week and four days at the electric company.

“I basically have two full-time jobs, but I don’t really mind,” Dixon says.

He doesn’t mind because he loves to be up in the air—and he loves to take others up in the air. On most flights Woodward sits in the passenger seat next to him and engages with the customers. When the flight ends, most of the passengers say the same thing: “I never realized Tulsa looked this good until I saw it from the sky.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Zachariah Petersen

OZARK, Arkansas The Franklin County Sheriff in Arkansas said three people died in a helicopter crash Sunday night and the lone survivor is a man from Omaha.

According to CBS affiliate KFSM Sheriff Anthony Boen said four people were on the helicopter when it crashed, they have been identified as Chuck Dixon, Marco Ornelas and Sarah Hill. Boen said Zachariah Petersen, of Omaha, was flown to a Tulsa, Oklahoma hospital with several broken bones and internal injuries. He's listed in critical condition. Boen said Dixon was the pilot, while Ornelas, Hill and Petersen were passengers.

KFSM said the helicopter was giving a tour ride at the Backwoods Music Festival at Mulberry Mountain when it crashed. Sheriff Boen said the pilot was due back about 7 p.m. Sunday, but did not show up as scheduled. Investigators found the wreckage around 8:00 p.m.

The helicopter crashed somewhere in the Ozark National Forest not far from the landing site. It's from Tulsa County Helicopters and was being used to give customers a bird's eye view festival.

Story and video  ➤

Charles “Chuck” E. Dixon, age 51, of Tulsa, OK died tragically in a helicopter crash on Sunday, June 2, 2019 in Ozark, Arkansas. 

Chuck was born on January 24, 1968 to overjoyed parents, James and Geraldine Dixon in Wichita, KS. He grew up in Tulsa and in Grove, graduating from Grove High School in 1986. In 1988, he married his high school sweetheart, Angela Hilton. From this union came 2 wonderful children and 26 years of marriage. 

Chuck’s career spans over 25 years with PSO and GRDA. He began in 1994 as a meter reader for PSO, and in 1999 he became a lineman. In 2011, Chuck transitioned to GRDA as a transmission lineman.

Chuck was always the adventurous type. His childhood interests included scouts, midget car racing, livestock shows, wrestling and of course, OU football. 

Along the way, his lifelong dream of flying was achieved when he became a licensed helicopter pilot. Chuck’s journey took him back to Tulsa, where he began building his own flight company. Joining him in this adventurous dream was his life partner, Becky. 

Chuck was caring loving and devoted man, adored by everyone who met him. He was a hard worker, a racing enthusiasts and pirate, not to mention the ultimate Eagles and OU fan. 

He was preceded in death by his father, Jim, Dixon. 

Left to cherish Chuck’s memory: mother, Geraldine Dixon of Jay, Ok; two sons, Derek Dixon and wife, Casey of Grove and Blake Dixon of OKC, OK, three treasured grandchildren, Akira, Maddoc and Idony Dixon; the mother of his sons and grandparenting partner, Angie Dixon of Grove, OK and Becky Woodward, his life partner in adventure and dream chasing, and her daughters Jessi and Maddi, and a tremendous host of family and friends. 

Visitation will be held from 6-8pm Friday, June 7 at Nichols-Stephens Funeral & Cremation Services. 

Funeral services will be at 2pm Saturday, June 8, 2019 at the Crossroads Church, 6900 E Highway 59, Fairland, OK 74343. Burial will be at Zena Cemetery. 

Donations may be made to St Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Chuck’s memory.

Sarah Hill 
Austin, Texas

The father of a woman who died in a helicopter crash said his daughter was taking an aerial tour when the crash happened Sunday, according to his Facebook post.

The crash happened during a music festival near Mulberry Mountain in Franklin County north of Ozark, officials said.

Pilot Chuck Dixon of Tulsa, Okla.; Sarah Hill of Austin, Texas; and Marco Ornelas of Mexico died in the crash, said Franklin County Sheriff Anthony Boen. The lone survivor, Zachary Peterson of Omaha, Neb., was airlifted to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa and was in critical condition Tuesday afternoon.

Scott Hill of Brenham, Texas, is credited with a Facebook post Monday about the crash. Attempts Tuesday to reach Scott Hill to confirm his authorship of the post were unsuccessful.

"It is with a sad heart that we report the tragic accident and the loss of our daughter Sarah," the post said. "While working at the Backwoods Music Festival in Arkansas, Sarah and two of her friends took an aerial tour of the festival in a helicopter, and it crashed yesterday evening. We do not have any other details at this time due to the difficulty the authorities have in accessing the location in order to conduct an official investigation of the wreckage. We felt that Facebook was the quickest way to let everyone know, and we thank you all for your prayers and support as we celebrate the 24 years of her life that God blessed us with."

The Arkansas State Police said four people were aboard the sightseeing Robinson R44 helicopter when it crashed. The agency responded around 7 p.m. Sunday to find the aircraft in rural Franklin County, said Bill Sadler, spokesman.

Tulsa County Helicopters had been giving tours for people at the festival. Tony Vann, company spokesman, released a statement Tuesday afternoon from Becky Woodward. She's referred to as the "significant other of the late pilot Chuck Dixon" in the release.

"The owners and staff of Tulsa County Helicopters offer our sincerest condolences to the family members of those who lost their lives," she said. "As a family owned and operated business, we share in the grief and loss you are experiencing. Tulsa County Helicopters is currently working with the appropriate authorities pursuant to the incident."

Tulsa County Helicopters is based at Jones Riverside Airport in Tulsa and began operation in 2008, the release said.

In a post on the Backwoods Music Festival website before the event, Dixon said he and a buddy started the business 11 years ago. They both graduated from flight school and wanted to find a way to keep flying.

"All we had was a rented helicopter, an E-Z up tent, and my pickup truck," he said. "We would drive around and offer helicopter rides at pretty much any large outdoor gathering we could find."

He said they built a successful business in Tulsa, "but we still travel to outdoor festivals like Backwoods. That's how we first got started, and we like to stay true to our roots."

The National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of the crash investigation. An investigator with the board was at the scene Monday, said Peter Knudson, spokesman.

Knudson said Tuesday they will try to get the wreckage removed today. He said authorities weren't aware of any witnesses to the crash, but if anyone saw it, they can email, he said.

Christopher O'Neil with the safety board said Monday investigators usually spend three to 10 days at the site of an accident like this, and it'll likely take about 10 business days before the board has a preliminary report on its findings.

The board's process will include investigating whether the cause of the accident was weather-related or mechanical, for example, O'Neil said. The board doesn't speculate what factors could have caused the accident, he said.

Original article can be found here ➤

The daughter of a Brenham photographer was killed along with two others in a helicopter crash Sunday in Arkansas.

Sarah Hill, daughter of Scott Hill with the Brenham Portrait Gallery, was taking an aerial tour while working at a music festival in the Ozark Mountains in western Arkansas, when their helicopter crashed, killing her, the pilot, and another passenger.  Hill was 24 years old.

Also killed were pilot Chuck Dickson of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and fellow festival worker Marco Ornelas of Mexico.  According to Franklin County Sheriff Anthony Boen, another passenger was airlifted to an Oklahoma hospital in critical condition.

A spokesman for Arkansas State Police said the helicopter was found about 500 yards south of the Backwoods Music Festival grounds on Mulberry Mountain, considered popular for multiday camping and music events.

Backwoods organizers posted on the festival’s Facebook page, saying these three were “incredibly hard working and loved by our festival community”.

The helicopter was operated by Tulsa County Helicopters, based in Oklahoma.  Last month, the festival’s website featured an interview with the company's operator, who said it would offer six-minute helicopter rides for $40 per person.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤

OZARK, Arkansas — Three people were killed and one was injured when a sightseeing helicopter crashed near a music festival in the Ozark Mountains in western Arkansas Sunday night, authorities said.

Pilot Chuck Dixon, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and two passengers — Sarah Hill of Austin, Texas, and Marco Ornelas of Mexico, died in the helicopter crash. Zachari Peterson of Omaha, Nebraska, was life-flighted to Tulsa with life-threatening injuries.

Hill was previously an intern at the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. HAAM Executive Director Reenie Collins sent KXAN a statement regarding Hill's death. 

"We are heartbroken by the news of Sarah Hill's passing. During her time at HAAM, she demonstrated a lot of talent and a deep love for the music industry -  she was a wonderful part of our team and a truly lovely person. The world has lost a bright light, and the music industry has lost a brilliant young woman who had a promising career ahead of her. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends during this difficult time," Collins said.  

An Arkansas State Police spokesman says the helicopter was found about 500 yards south of the festival grounds on Mulberry Mountain.

The wreckage was located by search and rescue officials after the aircraft was reported overdue from a trip. FAA investigators are on their way to the accident site, and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified.

The National Transportation Safety Board will be in charge of the investigation, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.

Original article can be found here ➤

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Arkansas — UPDATE (3:41PM): Franklin Co Sheriff, Anthony Boen, has confirmed the identities of three people killed in the helicopter crash at Mulberry Mountain.

Sheriff Boen said that the pilot, Chuck Dixon, and passengers Sarah Hill and Marco Ornelas were all three killed in the crash.

Sheriff Boen said a fourth person who has not been identified at this point in time was airlifted from the scene and is currently listed in critical condition at St. Francis Hospital.

People attending the Backwoods Music Festival said that a storm came through Sunday night, shortly after the helicopter took off.

Due to the rain, organizers stopped the music at the main stage and asked people to take cover.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators have not determined the cause of the crash, or if weather was a factor.

Dispatchers received a 911 call from a man who said he was injured in the crash. During the 911 call, he lost consciousness and became unresponsive.

Rescuers were able to ping his cellphone in order to find the wreckage.

Festival-goers said that after the rain stopped, organizers made an announcement saying,

"Thank you for understanding that this might be difficult for some people. Some of them were a very core part of our team. We are at a standstill at the moment while rescue efforts go underway for someone who could still have an opportunity to live this beautiful thing called life."

After some time, they ultimately decided to stop the music for the evening.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. Another week another Robinson.


    1. I wish I could stop the production of those things. I never knew a thing about this stuff until I survived this crash.

    2. They need to be shut down..... How can they allow the production of a death trap?

  2. sometimes looks AREN'T deceiving. They look like 4 year old's drawing of a helicopter.

  3. Reminds me of the time I took a helicopter ride over the county fair in an old Bell model 47 like the one on MASH. It was uneventful but easily could have been the last 6 minutes of my life. These type of operations I feel aren't much better than the carnival rides that move from town to town.

    1. Why? He never really got that close to them.

  4. I am a fixed wing turbojet ATP. I have known and lost many rotor wing acquaintances over the course of forty years. A Grand Canyon tour pilot. A rigging pilot. A police pilot. A fellow CFI. I have always felt that being around a helo pilot might be the last. I loved watching the SFO S-61 helicopters in the 60's and 70's. I rode in one in 1967. It was fun. I have always felt smaller helicopters are very dangerous. Mostly due to the intricate mechanics. But sometimes pilot error is the reason for disaster.

    1. He was giving tours for a couple of days at Backwoods music festival. This wasn't his normal route.

  5. 8700 hour rotor wing pilot, all of which is Army flying Blackhawks and Apaches.

    Anonymous said ...
    “I have always felt smaller helicopters are very dangerous. Mostly due to the intricate mechanics. But sometimes pilot error is the reason for disaster. “

    Very true. Helicopters of any size have much narrower coffin corners. Much less margin for error. This, coupled with complex mechanics that must be thoroughly maintained.
    I’ve always been skeptical of helo operators that give numerous, short rides. I wonder about the maintenance primarily, and then the complacency of the pilot.

    1. He was doing it for Backwoods a music festival. It wasn't his normal routine.

  6. Listen to noise coming from the main when he banks. Does anyone else pick that up?

  7. I think skimming the tree tops repeatedly was the bigger issue for this pilot rather than the rotor slapping sound observed in the video.

  8. Referring to .. ... the sounds the helo was making would indicate he was making increasing G turns, decents sand ascents. The slapping sound the rotors are making comes from the leading blades encountering the vortex that the preceding blade makes.
    Although Helos can land with little forward speed, in theory making them safer in some circumstances, they have coffin corners. Altitudes in which auto rotation to land is not possible. As low as this pilot was flying, any failure mechanically would prove to be disastrous.

    8700 hour Army helo Pilot

  9. Thank you for your service to this country... all military helo pilots!

    Just wondering if this could've been a typical mast-bumping incident with these helicopters?

  10. I felt extremely comfortable flying with him. This accident report is wrong to begin with. They found us and the wreckage because I found a phone and called 911. Plus the audio is probably skewed from it being record on a phone. It was a great flight until it wasn't.

  11. Plus we crashed around a bit after 6 and the first medics didn't reach me until a little after 9....