NTSB Identification: IAD01LA036.
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Accident occurred Saturday, March 03, 2001 in Wallingford, CT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/19/2001
Aircraft: Lenart Rotorway Exec 162F, registration: N929BL
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

In preparation for an instructional flight, the flight instructor flew the helicopter from the student pilot/builder's yard to an open field across the street for the purpose of added take-off room with two people on board. Prior to this relocation, the forward ballast weight required for solo operations remained on the front right skid. The flight instructor and student agreed that the student would move the ballast weight from the forward right skid to the tail boom before getting into the helicopter. When the student met the instructor across the street, he was concerned about the skids being in the dirt. The instructor reassured the student that the ground was solid. The instructor then slid from the left seat to the right seat and the student got into the helicopter and sat in the left seat. Both occupants forgot about repositioning the ballast weight. When the instructor lifted the helicopter to hover, the nose pitched down and the helicopter accelerated forward into trees. The instructor stated that he did not use the pre-take off checklist, which would have reminded him about repositioning the ballast weight. Examination of the flight manual revealed that in the weight and balance section, it stated: "SOLO flight is performed ONLY FROM THE LEFT SEAT, and must have the ballast weight placed on the front passenger skid. DUAL flight requires the ballast weight be placed on the rear mount tube under the tail boom." There were no mechanical deficiencies.

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

flight instructor's failure to follow published checklist procedures, which resulted in the forward ballast weight not being moved to the tailboom prior to departure.

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