Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Kaman K-1200 K-Max, N314: Fatal accident occurred August 24, 2020 in Pine Grove, Wasco County, Oregon

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Portland, Oregon

Location: Pine Grove, OR
Accident Number: WPR20LA283
Date & Time: 08/24/2020, 1800 PDT
Registration: N314
Aircraft: Kaman K 1200
Injuries:1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load

On August 24, 2020, about 1800 Pacific daylight time, a Kaman, K-1200 helicopter, N314, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Pine Grove, Oregon. The pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 133 external load flight.

The helicopter was being operated under an exclusive use contract with the United States Forest Service (USFS), and had been conducting water bucket operations in support of the White River fire in Mt. Hood, National Forest. Radio communications with the helicopter pilot was lost and a second helicopter was dispatched in an effort to locate the pilot. The helicopter wreckage was later found at a designated dip site on the White River. The helicopter came to rest on its right side with the 140-foot long-line still attached to the cargo hook. The left-side, main rotor blades had separated at the blade roots, and were located about 500 feet north west from the fuselage. The right-side rotor pylon, rotor hub, and one main rotor blade had separated from the fuselage and were found near the tail boom of the helicopter. The other right-side main rotor blade had separated from the hub and was found about 50 feet from the fuselage. All other major components were located near the fuselage in a small debris field.

The helicopter was relocated to a secure facility for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Kaman
Registration: N314
Model/Series: K 1200 No Series
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Central Copters Inc
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:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 10°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 16 knots / 24 knots, 290°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.79 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 45.170556, -121.548611 (est)

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

Tom Duffy (R) and his father, Mark, on a flight together.

Tom Duffy, 40, a firefighting pilot and Seventh-day Adventist lay leader, was killed Monday in a helicopter crash while helping fight a wildfire in the Mount Hood National Forest.

The Type 1 K-Max helicopter was dropping buckets of water on the White River Fire, burning in rough terrain, when the crash occurred, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Rachel Pawlitz said. There were no other individuals involved in the crash.

The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office and the forest service air and ground resources responded immediately to the crash site. No further information about the crash has been released at this time.

“The Adventist community in Bozeman is heartbroken by this tragic loss,” says Elden Ramirez, the Adventist Church president for Montana. “Our love and prayers are with Tom’s family and loved ones. Tom has a long history of dedicated service as an Adventist leader here in Montana and the Northwest and will be deeply missed.”

Duffy has served on the executive committee — the governing board — of the Adventist Church for Montana as well as for the North Pacific Union, the Adventist Church entity that oversees five states in the Northwest. Additionally, he served on the Adventist board of education in Montana.

Duffy’s work with and leading in his faith community isn’t a recent development. “Tom was a committed board member,” says Ramirez. “His love of family and God was very evident. Tom was a lay leader who devoted countless hours of his time and energy in faithful service.”

Duffy, a Bozeman native, attended Mount Ellis Adventist Academy and Montana State University, where he played basketball. In 2001, The Missoulian ran a story featuring his faithful Sabbath observance while playing college basketball.

In the story Duffy said, "Obviously the Lord has always been first in my life, then there's family and friends. But basketball is up there too."

Tom always kept the Lord first in his life even when it meant making significant sacrifices. His personal dedication and commitment will not be forgotten.

He was a loving husband and father. He is survived by his wife, Robyn, and their three children.

Wasco County Sheriff's Office
TYGH VALLEY, Oregon (August 25, 2020) — On August 24th, a pilot flying a Type 1 K-MAX helicopter on the White River Fire on Mt. Hood National Forest was killed while conducting bucket drops to help battle the blaze.

The pilot was the only individual onboard of the helicopter at the time of the crash. The helicopter was a private contractor rotorcraft operating under a Call When Needed agreement with federal agencies.

Wasco County Sheriff’s Office and USDA Forest Service responded immediately to the crash by sending air and ground resources to the scene. The crash site is in rugged terrain, and the safety of first responders is our priority at this time.

“Yesterday, we lost a member of our firefighting family in a tragic helicopter crash,” said Glenn Casamassa, Regional Forester for the Pacific Northwest Region of the USDA Forest Service. “We convey our deepest sympathy to the family, incident management team, firefighters, friends and emergency responders involved. The courage to selflessly protect lives and property are respected and admired. Their ultimate sacrifice will not be forgotten. Firefighting is dangerous work and risk is well known to those who fight the flames. We honor, we remember, we support the families and their loved ones. We affirm that we are a community and that the family is part of the firefighting family as well.”

A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in effect to protect firefighter safety, so we are reminding people that it is critical not to fly in the vicinity of White River Fire.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration have been notified and the USDA Forest Service will be working with the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate further. As official reports become available, we will share more information.

We are working with the family on notifications and ask the media to respect their privacy during their time of bereavement.

"We don't ever forget those people that are protecting our public lands and are on the front lines for us and our local communities," said Wasco County Sheriff Lane Magill.

A Critical Incident Stress Management team will be assisting firefighters working on the incident.

The White River Fire, located is 13 miles SW of Government Camp in the White River drainage near Forest Road 48, is currently 1,289 acres and 15 % containment. There are 354 personnel engaged in the firefighting efforts. Level 1 evacuations are in effect for Sportmans Park, which is approximately 8 miles east of the fire. Three additional Type 1 helicopters, including another K-MAX, and one Type 3 helicopter are still actively supporting suppression efforts on the fire.

While air resources such as these helicopters may be assigned to help with a specific fire, they are managed as an interagency pool that are flexible and responsive, often assisting with other fires when the opportunity and need arises.

Please respect area, road, recreation site, and trail closures surrounding the White River Fire which are in place to protect the safety of the public, firefighters, and first responders.


  1. Kamans are robust machines, always sad to lose a pilot.

    If you have never seen intermeshed rotors:

  2. These are used in logging operations for harvest removal. Mostly North America and in Europe. Pilots say it is much easier to fly with dual counter rotating rotors and NOTAR (no tail rotor). Also it has a super skinny fuselage with a bubble cockpit window for looking straight down at the load being lifted. The negative is shorter range and much slower cruise range speed than a traditional medium weight lifter like the Huey.