NTSB Identification: SEA97TA023.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, October 29, 1996 in FILLMORE, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/1997
Aircraft: Bell 47G-3B-1, registration: N3098G
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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.

The helicopter pilot had completed about 20 seeding runs, and had landed at the same landing zone. The landing was describe as the same as the previous landings, in that the bucket touched down on the ground, then the pilot maneuvered the helicopter backwards and touched down with the bucket in front of his position. Witnesses reported that after the 2 ground crew members filled the seed bucket, both moved away to avoid the rotor wash; one went behind a rock, while the other moved near the seed bags and turned his back toward the helicopter. As the helicopter lifted off from the landing zone, one of three 40-foot long lines (attached to the seed bucket) looped over the right skid. The helicopter continued to gain altitude as the seed bucket began to tip and drop seed. Witnesses (about 50 yards downhill from the landing zone) reported that the pilot appeared to be having trouble controlling the helicopter as it gained altitude and moved forward. The helicopter continued into rising terrain and collided with a 45 degree slope in a nose down attitude and slightly to the right side. Inspection of the helicopter after the accident revealed that the pilot had jettisoned the load and the hook had released at the belly of the helicopter before collision with the terrain; however, the line remained entangled around the right skid.

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

inadequate procedure and inadequate monitoring by the pilot, the operator, and/or other personnel, which allowed one of three external cables to the seed bucket to become entangled with the right skid of the helicopter, resulting in an imbalance and loss of aircraft control as weight on the cable became effective. Lack of air/ground communication between the pilot and ground crew personnel was a related factor.

Full narrative available

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