NTSB Identification: DFW08CA177.
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Accident occurred Saturday, July 05, 2008 in Canyon Lake, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/28/2008
Aircraft: Robinson R44 II, registration: N804DF
Injuries: 1 Minor,2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The commercial pilot was conducting a photo flight with himself and two passengers in the four seat helicopter. The helicopter had been in a zero airspeed out of ground effect hover at approximately 40 to 50 feet above the ground for about 15 seconds when the pilot applied power to begin a vertical climb. According to the pilot, he then suddenly and without warning lost directional control, the helicopter began to spin nose right, and his application of full left pedal had no effect. The pilot initiated an autorotation and the helicopter landed hard on rough rocky sloping terrain between several trees. The crash caused substantial damage to the fuselage and airframe when the left skid gear partially collapsed and penetrated into the left rear passenger cabin floor area. The upper pylon was noticeably bent and wrinkled, and both main rotor blades were damaged. An on-scene investigation by an FAA maintenance inspector confirmed continuity and no apparent damage to the flight controls. There was no post-crash fire and the pilot and front seat passenger reported no injuries, but the left rear seat passenger suffered minor injuries and had to be carried out of the aircraft. The pilot reported the surface winds were light and variable, visibility 10 statute miles with scattered clouds at 3,000 feet, a temperature of 88 degrees, and an altimeter setting of 30.01 inches of mercury.

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

A total loss of tail rotor effectiveness. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's improper decision to operate inside the height velocity curve.

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