Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Bell OH-58A Kiowa, N911RW: Accident occurred October 03, 2019 in Fort Meade, Polk County, Florida

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Tampa, Florida

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


Location: Fort Meade, FL
Accident Number: ERA20LA004
Date & Time: 10/03/2019, 1503 EDT
Aircraft: Bell OH 58A
Injuries:1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Public Aircraft

On October 3, 2019, at 1503 eastern daylight time, a Bell OH-58A helicopter, N911RW, sustained substantial damage when it rolled over during a rescue mission in Fort Meade, Florida. The commercial pilot and the individual being rescued were not injured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by the Polk County Sheriff's Office as a local, public-use flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a company flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight that departed the Barstow Executive Airport (BOW), Barstow, Florida, at 1412.

The pilot was dispatched to provide aerial support for a gyroplane that made a forced landing in a phosphate pit and gypsum pond. The pilot stated that foliage in the gypsum pond was about 6-9 ft tall and the gyroplane pilot was standing on his seat holding onto the rotor blades. The pilot considered that the gyroplane and pilot could sink into the gypsum at any time and attempted to rescue the gyroplane pilot by having him grab the right skid of the helicopter to lift him to safety. The pilot anticipated that when the gyroplane pilot grabbed the skid, he would have to compensate for the change in the helicopter's center of gravity (CG). The gyroplane pilot tried twice to grab the skid, but his hands were covered in mud and gypsum and he was unable to grip the skid.

The pilot said that on the third attempt, the gyroplane pilot had repositioned himself closer to the helicopter's skid and, "Without hesitation and without warning, [the gyroplane pilot] jumped up in the air towards my skid, grabbing the skid in the air, causing his entire weight to be forced onto my skid. This immediately changed my CG in an instant. This action not only caused my aircraft to descend, but an abrupt and violent roll towards the starboard side." The pilot immediately increased collective to prevent striking the gyroplane with the helicopter's skid, but the "roll was tremendous and without warning." The pilot tried to push the cyclic forward to increase speed and lift, but there was no response and the helicopter continued to roll to the right and impacted the gypsum pond, which resulted in substantial damage to the main rotor blades, tail rotor, and the tail boom.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for rotorcraft-helicopter, single and multiengine airplane, and instrument airplane and rotorcraft-helicopter. His last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate was issued on July 17, 2019. The pilot reported a total of 4,287 flight hours, of which, 3,703 hours were in rotorcraft and 2,500 hours were in the same make and model as the accident helicopter.

At 1450, the weather reported at BOW, about 17 miles north of the accident site, was wind from 060° at 12 knots, gusting to 18 knots, scattered clouds at 3,500 ft, and visibility 10 miles. The temperature was 32°C, the dew point was 18°C, and the altimeter setting was 29.96 inches of mercury.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bell
Model/Series: OH 58A No Series
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Polk County Sheriff's Office
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: BOW, 125 ft msl
Observation Time:1450 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 17 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 32°C / 18°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 3500 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 12 knots / 18 knots, 60°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.96 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Bartow, FL (BOW)
Destination: Fort Meade, FL

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 27.702222, -81.768889

POLK COUNTY, Florida — A Polk County Sheriff's Office helicopter and a gyrocopter are both down in a field after separate crash landings in Ft. Meade.

Aerials from Action Air 1 showed the Sheriff's Office helicopter on its side on Thursday.

According to Polk County Sheriff's Office, the two pilots both had hard landings. The pilots were rescued by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter.

Authorities say the gyrocopter went down first, crashing on Mosaic property near Manley Road. While the Polk County Sheriff's Office helicopter, operated by 52-year-old Lavon Hughes, was above that scene it also went down.

Authorities say the area is extremely rural, wet and mucky — which made the rescue difficult and led to the Coast Guard being called in.

"I'd like to thank the other agencies who came out this afternoon such as Polk Fire Rescue, FWC, Mosaic personnel, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Seminole County Sheriff's Office, and the United States Coast Guard. This was an extraordinary situation, and we're happy that both men were not seriously hurt," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

Both men were taken to a local hospital after they were rescued. The sheriff's office said they are doing well.

The name of the gyrocopter pilot has not been released.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it will investigate both hard landings.

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