NTSB Identification: SEA98LA013.
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Accident occurred Saturday, November 08, 1997 in FOREST GROVE, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/04/1998
Aircraft: Bell 206B, registration: N101LF
Injuries: 1 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 helicopter was approaching a pick-up area for a load of Christmas trees. The approach was over a tree-lined ridge and down into a basin. The pilot reported that while decelerating, he heard a loud bang. Warning horns and lights went off as the helicopter turned to the left and rolled right, subsequently colliding with trees and terrain. A witness on the ground stated that as the helicopter was descending, the long line swung forward and straight up in front of the cabin. The main rotor blades instantly separated and the helicopter started to descend. The witness heard a loud screaming sound, then a loud explosion, and observed the helicopter come apart in mid-air. The cabin continued in the same direction that it was traveling and turned up-side down and collided with trees and terrain. The tail section separated and collided with terrain near where the witness was standing. Cable marks were found on one main rotor blade and one tail rotor blade. The load line itself was severed from the helicopter, and the load line hook displayed severe impact damage signatures.

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

Excessive deceleration of the helicopter by the pilot-in-command, resulting in an in-flight main rotor blade strike on the helicopter's external load line and subsequent main rotor separation. Downhill terrain which led to a descending approach to the pickup point was a factor.

Full narrative available

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