NTSB Identification: MIA96LA144.
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Accident occurred Friday, May 31, 1996 in WEST PALM BEACH, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/22/1996
Aircraft: Bell UH1B, registration: N3880A
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

While refueling the helicopter the pilot and his crew saw smoke coming from the 'hell hole' on the bottom of the helicopter. They could not determine where the smoke was coming from, so the pilot elected to reposition the helicopter away from the fuel pad. After lift-off, there was a 'loud pop' and the helicopter immediately started rotating to the right. In an effort to avoid striking the fuel tank the pilot added power, and the wind carried the helicopter across the top of the tank. The spinning rotation increased, and after crossing the fuel tank the pilot reduced power. As the helicopter started to come around and get closer to the ground, it went backwards and struck a tree. After impact with the ground the helicopter rolled on its left side. Examination of the helicopter revealed that the tail rotor cable retaining pin came loose, and had rubbed against the tail rotor shaft, subsequently causing the drive shaft to fail.

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

the failure of the tail rotor drive shaft which resulted in a loss of tail rotor control.

Full narrative available

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