Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Bell OH-58A, N103WC: Accident occurred November 15, 2021 in Molalla, Clackamas 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; Hillsboro, Oregon

Edgefield Aviation LLC

Location: Molalla, Oregon
Accident Number: WPR22LA034
Date and Time: November 15, 2021, 08:19 Local 
Registration: N103WC
Aircraft: Bell OH-58A 
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 133: Rotorcraft ext. load

On November 15, 2021, about 0819 mountain daylight time, a Bell OH-58A helicopter, N103WC, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Molalla, Oregon. The pilot was not injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 133, rotorcraft external load.

The pilot reported that he was on an external sling load flight, relocating Christmas trees. About 30 minutes into the flight, while enroute to refuel, the master caution light and the fuel boost light illuminated. He landed the helicopter without incident. He reduced the engine power setting to idle and attempted to reset the master caution light and cycled the fuel boost switch and circuit breakers, but the lights remained illuminated. After the helicopter was refueled, the pilot increased the engine power setting to 100% and recycled the fuel boost switch and circuit breakers again and the lights extinguished. The pilot added that the operator reminded him that the fuel boost light would intermittently illuminate and extinguish.

The pilot then hovered the helicopter and verified that the master caution and fuel boost lights did not illuminate. Shortly after, he maneuvered the helicopter to the loading site and hooked trees to the external sling. The pilot lifted off and as the helicopter climbed through 60 ft above the ground, he simultaneously heard a “pop” and felt the helicopter yaw. Immediately, after he verified people were clear, he released the external load. The helicopter descended and he heard the main rotor speed decay, so he initiated an autorotation. As the helicopter approached the ground, the pilot raised the collective while maintaining heading; the skids contacted the water-soaked soil, and the helicopter bounced and came to rest upright. Subsequently, the main rotor blade struck the tailboom and separated the tail rotor and tail rotor gear box assembly.

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

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bell
Registration: N103WC
Model/Series: OH-58A
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Rotorcraft external load (133), Agricultural aircraft (137)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KUAO,196 ft msl 
Observation Time: 07:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C /10°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots / 18 knots, 190°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.86 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Sandy, OR
Destination: Molalla, OR

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 45.147285,-122.57571 (est)

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