NTSB Identification: SEA00LA028.
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Accident occurred Friday, December 03, 1999 in SALEM, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/23/2000
Aircraft: Hughes 369E, registration: N11KV
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 operating with a 25 foot long-line at the time of the accident. The pilot was returning to pick up another load of Christmas trees, maneuvering at slow speed looking for the hooker, when he heard a loud bang and the aircraft began to spin rapidly. More bangs were heard from the rear of the aircraft as it continued to spin. The pilot rolled the throttle to idle, which did not arrest the spin. The aircraft then entered a nose-low attitude while spinning; the pilot could not get the nose up with full aft cyclic. Just prior to ground impact, the pilot rolled the throttle to full open, which brought the nose up to a near-level attitude. The helicopter impacted the ground level, but sliding to the left into a hillside. Terrain was described as small rolling hillsides with various fields of small to large Christmas trees. FAA inspectors found evidence of white paint transfer on the long-line cable, and also signatures consistent with cable marks on one of the two separated tail rotor blades. Witnesses noted that ground fog was forming in the area at the time of the accident.

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

Failure of the pilot to maintain ground clearance, resulting in the long-line snagging and then striking the tail rotor.

Full narrative available

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