NTSB Identification: LAX98TA202.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, June 17, 1998 in LAGUNA BEACH, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/15/2001
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas 600N, registration: N185SD
Injuries: 1 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.

The purpose of the flight was to test a portable water source, called the pumpkin, to determine if it was an acceptable means of providing water for bambi bucket operations. The pumpkin is a rubberized circular bag, which stands approximately 3 feet high and is approximately 7-8 feet in diameter. The pilot reported that he noted that the rotor downwash was blowing the top portion of the pumpkin (the portion above the water line) wide open. As the pilot raised the collective to depart, the rotor wash blew the top part of the pumpkin closed, which overlapped and snagged the rear portion of the left skid. The helicopter tilted back and the tail section struck the asphalt. The helicopter spun 180 degrees to the right just as the pilot was about to jettison the bucket. The helicopter impacted the ground on its rear left side. The pilot reported that he had not experienced any abnormal malfunction with the aircraft controls prior to the accident. He further stated that he was not in communication with any of the ground crewmembers at the time of the accident.

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

The inadvertent entanglement of an external load, which interfered with the pilot's ability to control the aircraft.

Full narrative available

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