Saturday, February 19, 2022

Bell UH-1H Iroquois, N72297: Fatal accident occurred February 16, 2022 in Coalinga, Fresno County, California

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 traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fresno, California

American Ag Aviation Inc doing business as American West Aviation 

Location: Coalinga, California
Accident Number: WPR22FA098
Date and Time: February 16, 2022, 21:30 Local
Registration: N72297
Aircraft: Bell UH-1H
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural

On February 16, 2022, about 2130 Pacific standard time, a Bell UH-1H helicopter, N72297, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Coalinga, California. The pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight. 

According to the supervisor of the ground crew, who supported the operation, the pilot planned to spray product over five separate parcels of land. He arrived at the first location about 1800. He completed the first two locations and stopped spraying the third location when the wind increased. He over flew the fourth location, stated to the ground crew that it would be done on the following the day, then departed the area without announcing his intentions. The last communication that the ground crew had with the pilot occurred about 2138 and involved a question about the wind. When the helicopter did not arrive at the fifth location, and did not respond to radio calls, the supervisor alerted his employer, and called 911. An alert notification was issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. The helicopter was located about 0300 by a search airplane.

The helicopter came to rest on its left side, in an orchard, located about 6 miles southeast of his last observed position, and close to an establishment where the pilot was known to take breaks. The orchard was at an elevation of about 385 ft mean sea level, and consisted of trees, spaced about 15 ft apart at a height of about 12 ft. An area of disturbed ground and felled trees extended back from the helicopter about 120 ft, on a bearing of 170°magnetic. All major components of the helicopter were with the wreckage or in the debris path. A large set of power transmission lines were near the vicinity of the wreckage but were not disturbed.

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

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bell
Registration: N72297
Model/Series: UH-1H 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural aircraft (137)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: KNLC,234 ft msl 
Observation Time: 21:56 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 14 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 6°C /-5°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / , 260°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.11 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: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 36.29256,-120.24516

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290. 


  1. RIP.
    The following is Goldbook information on US Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 67-17147
    It is provided here as an ESTIMATE of the history of this helicopter and is not intended to be the final authority.
    This helicopter was purchased by the US Army in 0168.
    Please provide any additional information on this helicopter to the VHPA.

    6802 0 0 3300 355 AVN CO 4TH ARMY FORT SILL 4TH ARMY
    6803 71 71 3235 355 AVN CO 4TH ARMY FORT SILL 4TH ARMY
    6804 97 168 WEAEAA 571 MED DET VIETNAM RVN
    7202 0 2212 WC3JAA 129 ASLT HEL CO VIETNAM RVN

  2. Maybe you could provide a more bureaucratic response, Gretnabear.

  3. The aircraft was also part of the LAPD at one point based upon registration information.