NTSB Identification: LAX01FA006.
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Accident occurred Saturday, October 07, 2000 in KERNVILLE, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/2003
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas 369E, registration: N819CE
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 helicopter rolled over during an emergency landing following a severe vibration and loss of antitorque control. The pilot stated that he was descending from 7,500 feet msl with an indicated airspeed of 125 knots in mountainous terrain and light turbulence. The first indication of trouble was a loud snap sound from the rear of the helicopter, followed by violent airframe vibrations. The pilot reported that there were no unusual vibrations in any of the controls. He made a right turn to land on the best available terrain. As the turn was completed, antitorque control was lost, and the helicopter began a series of rapid clockwise spins. The helicopter spun at least three times before impact. Examination of the helicopter revealed a torsional failure of the tail rotor drive shaft at 8 inches forward of the aft Kamatics coupling. This failure is consistent with a tail rotor sudden stoppage. Leading edge tail rotor blade damage was observed to both blades, with red and blue color and material transfers evident. Examination of the tail rotor blade leading edges by Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectrometer of the accumulation revealed the material to be of a cellophane base. The pilot reported that prior to departure from Big Creek, he placed a red and blue checkered shirt contained in a plastic bag on the rear seat with other personal baggage. He speculated that during his descent from 7,500 feet, he had experienced some turbulence and the left rear door may have popped open. Neither the bag nor the shirt was recovered at the accident site.

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

The pilot's improper storage of personal items and his inadequate preflight inspection, which resulted in the unlatching of the left rear cabin door during flight and allowing a plastic garment bag to blow out and strike the tail rotor.

Full narrative available

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