NTSB Identification: ATL96LA076.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, April 03, 1996 in HUGER, SC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/16/1996
Aircraft: Hiller UH12-E, registration: N14MQ
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During helicopter operations using a long line to spray jellied fuel to conduct a controlled burn of trees, the engine quit. At the time, the helicopter was just above the tree tops about 75 feet above the ground. An autorotation was established toward the nearest clearing. The helicopter struck trees before reaching the clearing, resulting in a hard landing on the clearing's edge. The pilot said that the engine's quitting was consistent with fuel exhaustion, however, he had been flying 40 minutes with the 1.5 hour supply that was in the helicopter at the initial departure. Subsequently, the fuel tank vent was found to be clogged by dirt from an insect nest and insect parts.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The blocked fuel vent line that resulted in engine stoppage. A factor was tall trees that intervened the helicopter's flight path.

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