NTSB Identification: FTW97TA046.
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Accident occurred Saturday, November 23, 1996 in TAOS, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/14/1997
Aircraft: Aerospatiale AS-355-F1, registration: N606SP
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.
Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the public use helicopter search and rescue mission to locate and recover a deceased victim from the bottom of a canyon (650 feet deep). Winds from the west at 5 to 10 mph and throughout the day several trips were conducted into the canyon. Upon receiving notification of the location and preparedness to remove the victim, the pilot flew the helicopter to the canyon and hovered the helicopter with a portion of the left skid on a boulder. The rescue team loaded the litter into the cabin on the left side of the helicopter. As the litter was being secured and one of the rescue team members was climbing on board, 'a gust of wind caused the helicopter to yaw to the right.' As the pilot 'attempted to regain directional control, the skid started to slip on the rock, the tail pitched downward, and the vertical fin and tail rotor struck a rock.' The pilot secured the engines and set the helicopter down, straddling a boulder.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's failure to maintain directional control. A factor was terrain induced turbulence. Full narrative available
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