NTSB Identification: SEA00LA020.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 17, 1999 in NEIHART, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/13/2001
Aircraft: Bell 206L-1, registration: N519EH
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 reported that, due to trees directly in front of him for the departure from a remote site located near ski lift towers, he elected to turn the nose of the helicopter 45 to 50 degrees to the left, hover over to an open area, and depart downslope building airspeed and altitude. After the helicopter moved to the left about 20 to 30 feet, the pilot felt the tail of the helicopter rotate abruptly to the left. The pilot applied left pedal which slowed, but did not stop the rotation. The pilot applied cyclic control to return to the landing zone. During the maneuver, the helicopter drifted over to one of the ski lift towers, striking the tail rotor on the tower. The rotation increased, and the pilot closed the throttle and utilized collective to cushion the landing which was hard. The pilot reported that there were no mechanical failures or malfunctions with the helicopter at the time of the accident. Shortly after the accident, as the pilot was waiting for company personnel to arrive, he noted that at 10 to 15 minute intervals, the wind gusts would become stronger for a short period of time, then die down. The pilot reported that the wind was from 180 degrees at five knots, gusting to 15 knots.

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

Clearance from an object was not maintained. Gusting wind conditions was a factor.

Full narrative available

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