NTSB Identification: MIA96TA236.
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Accident occurred Monday, September 30, 1996 in FLAMINGO, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/1998
Aircraft: Bell 206B III, registration: N2113Z
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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

This flight was on a mission of taking water samples in the everglades. The pilots stated that while taking off from a level site, covered with about 4-6 inches of water, and moderately covered with mangrove vegetation, the wire strike protection guide 'made contact with a mangrove plant branch...causing the nose to pitch down while the helicopter was trying to transition to forward flight.' The helicopter rolled to the right causing the rotor blade to strike the ground. The National Park Service (NPS) was providing flight following for the flight, and the pilot was to report every 15 minutes. The flight had 7 minutes remaining before the next report was to be made, when the accident occurred. What was not known to the pilot was, the flight following dispatcher had closed after the last report, and the pilot was not notified of the situation. The helicopter's emergency transmitter locator (ELT) did not operate after the crash, and no one was aware of the accident until a ground crew member became concerned when he had not heard from the flight for about 5 hours. The ground crew member checked with NPS personnel, and expressed his concern. The occupants stayed with the wreckage until about 1845, when they were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. Examination and a functional test on the ELT revealed that the 'ON-OFF-ARM' switch was not working. Disassembly of the ELT did not expose the interior of the switch, and there was no determination made on why the switch malfunctioned.

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

the wire strike protection guide became entangled in a mangrove branch which resulted in helicopter control not being maintained.

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