NTSB Identification: FTW97LA347.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Friday, September 12, 1997 in BRINKLEY, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/06/1998
Aircraft: Hughes MDL-369HS, registration: N107CW
Injuries: 4 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 was transporting a television crew to several high school football games. He had removed the left rear door of the aircraft to facilitate aerial photography of the games. The helicopter was in cruise flight at approximately 500 feet agl when the pilot heard a loud bang and the aircraft made a right yaw. The pilot said that movement of the directional control pedals was ineffective. He made a run-on landing, but the helicopter impacted two levees separating the right skid from the aircraft. The aircraft rotated to the right and came to a stop upright. Postcrash examination revealed that the tail rotor drive shaft had separated near its mid point. One of the tail rotor blades had seven small indentations (similar to a zipper) on one eighth inch centers near the tip of the blade. He reported that the 'three outboard marks on the top of the blade also exhibited span-wise streaks with a brass like appearance, which may be transferred metal.' Tests by the aircraft's manufacturer revealed the material transferred to the tail rotor blade leading edge was brass. None of the passengers remembered losing any personal items during the flight.

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

The in flight collision of the tail rotor blade with an object that had a brass zipper on it, and the subsequent overload and failure of the tail rotor drive shaft. Factors were the object with the brass zipper on it and the unsuitable terrain for the forced landing.

Full narrative available

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