NTSB Identification: MIA00FA102.
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Accident occurred Friday, March 03, 2000 in MIAMI, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/02/2001
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas HU-600N, registration: N611BC
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The Sky 6 pilot was returning to Tamiami Airport, Miami, Florida, when he overheard a friend departing the airport. They established radio contact on the air-to-air frequency, and the sky 6 pilot decided to join his friend on the outbound leg. He made a 180 degree turn, and joined up on the right side of his friends helicopter. They talked for a short time and the Sky 6 pilot departed. His friend stated, Sky 6 started a descent estimated at about 15 degree nose-down attitude. His passenger stated Sky 6 descent was about a 45 degree nose down attitude. The friend and the passenger stated the nose of Sky 6 pitched up 70 degrees or past the 90 degree point. The helicopter yawed to the left, held there, appeared to slide backwards, the nose pitched down, the tail boom assembly separated, and the helicopter collided with terrain. Another news helicopter pilot, who knew the Sky 6 pilot, stated he overheard Sky 6 talking with another pilot on the air-to-air frequency. Based on there conversation he assumed they knew each other. At about 1530, he and a flight controller heard Sky 6 state, 'watch this.' There was no other communication between Sky 6 and the other pilot. Witnesses on the ground stated they observed both helicopters in straight and level flight. The accident helicopter nose was observed to pitch down and then pitched up to a near vertical nose-up attitude. The helicopter yawed to the left, slid backwards, the nose pitched down, and the tail boom separated. The helicopter started rotating to the right until it disappeared from view. Other news helicopter pilots stated the Sky 6 pilot would arrive at a news scene and stop the helicopter by conducting a cyclic climb maneuver and then bring the helicopter to a hover. A friend of the Sky 6 pilot stated he had a conversation with the pilot during the first part of February 2000. The pilot described a maneuver that he had been performing in the helicopter. He would make a high speed pass down a runway followed by a steep pull-up. At the top of the pull-up he would reverse the heading by 180 degrees, and then recover from the ensuing dive similar to a hammerhead turn in a fixed wing aircraft. Examination of the airframe, flight controls, engine assembly and accessories revealed no evidence of a precrash mechanical failure or malfunction. Examination of the tail boom assembly revealed four main rotor blade strikes in addition to the fracture that resulted in the separation of the tail boom.

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

The pilot's ostentatious display and in-flight decision to perform an abrupt low altitude pitch up maneuver (aerobatic flight). This resulted in the main rotor blades colliding with and separating the tail boom assembly while maneuvering, and the helicopters subsequent in-flight collision with terrain.

Full narrative available

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