NTSB Identification: SEA08FA022
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 08, 2007 in Baker City, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/10/2008
Aircraft: HUGHES 269C, registration: N381MC
Injuries: 1 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.

According to witnesses, after departing the airport, the helicopter turned to the north, climbed to an altitude that was reported to be as low as 100 above ground level (agl) and as high as 800 feet agl. As it approached the accident site location, the helicopter's tail reportedly lowered, it slowed, rotated or turned slightly to the east, and then descended rapidly toward the terrain. Witnesses reported that near the beginning of the descent, the main rotor blades either slowed their rotation significantly or "stopped turning." One witness stated that almost immediately after observing the change in rotation speed of the main rotor blades, "…the helicopter just dropped out of the sky." Examination of the wreckage disclosed evidence of coning of the main rotor blades. No evidence was found of any flight control malfunction or loss of engine power.

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

The pilot’s failure to maintain main rotor rpm while maneuvering.

Full narrative available

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