NTSB Identification: IAD02LA094.
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Accident occurred Saturday, September 14, 2002 in ROCHESTER, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/2003
Aircraft: Garlick OH-58AT, registration: N444JB
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 made numerous successful lifts into the wind, with similar cranberry loads. The accident occurred during the first lift attempt at a new location. The helicopter was hovering about 12 feet above the ground, forward of the load and with a left quartering tailwind, while the ground crew secured a 900-pound cargo basket to a 15-foot sling load line. Once the load was secured, the helicopter flew forward and dragged the cargo basket. There was a "large pop" sound, and a foot-long flame exited the left exhaust pipe. The cargo basket was dragged into a ditch and the pilot jettisoned the load. After the load was released, the helicopter pitched up, the main rotor blades severed the tail boom, and the main rotor assembly separated from the helicopter. The helicopter fell to the ground and rolled over, onto its left side. Examination of the main rotor assembly revealed that it had separated from the main rotor mast below the contact areas for the static stops. There were no obstructions that would have impeded the pilot from departing into the wind.

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

The pilot's failure to center the sling load prior to commencing forward flight. Also causal, was the pilot's improper decision to attempt a takeoff with a quartering tailwind, which resulted in an engine compressor stall.

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