NTSB Identification: FTW97LA217.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Thursday, June 12, 1997 in WESTON, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/1997
Aircraft: Bell 206L-3, registration: N207DS
Injuries: 5 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.

The pilot said he crested a ridge and descended into the next valley following the terrain downhill. The wind felt like it was calm. As he approach the far side of the valley, the pilot realized he was going to have to make a 360 degree climbing turn in order to clear the ridge. Reportedly, after completing about 90 degrees of the turn, the helicopter was hit by a gust of wind from the rear, causing a 'significant decrease in apparent airspeed,' and the helicopter settled toward the trees. The pilot said he had to decide whether to attempt completing the turn and risk striking a tree with ground speed, or attempt a touchdown with zero airspeed. He chose the latter. The helicopter settled into trees and rolled over.

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

the pilot's improper in-flight planning/decision and failure to maintain adequate altitude and/or clearance from rising mountainous/hilly terrain. The unfavorable wind condition and low airspeed were related factors.

Full narrative available

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