NTSB Identification: FTW98TA072.
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Accident occurred Thursday, December 18, 1997 in RESERVE, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/09/1999
Aircraft: Bell 206B-III, registration: N124DA
Injuries: 2 Serious,1 Minor.

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 was under contract by the New Mexico Game and Fish Department for the purpose of elk herd evaluation. The right front seat passenger said that they were flying northbound, approximately 180 to 200 feet above the ground, in an attempt to split a heard of elk, for counting purposes. He said that the helicopter was traveling at less than 10 knots, the pilot initiated a turn, and within 3 to 5 seconds, they rotated to the ground. The pilot stated that he thought they were traveling north at approximately 100 feet agl and approximately 30 knots when he initiated the right turn. He further stated that 'once the turn got started, I couldn't stop it, even with full left pedal.' The pilot reported that he believed the wind was from the west at approximately 5 to 10 knots (the density altitude was calculated to be 9,043 feet). He said that when the accident happened, 'I heard nothing unusual nor felt anything.' According to FAA AC 90-95, unanticipated right yaw can be brought about by low airspeeds, high power regimes, left crosswinds or tailwinds, and right turning maneuvers.

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

The pilot's inadvertent loss of tail rotor effectiveness. A factor was the high density altitude weather condition.

Full narrative available

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