NTSB Identification: CHI08CA192.
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Accident occurred Friday, July 11, 2008 in Port Edwards, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/28/2008
Aircraft: Bell 47G-3B, registration: N73995
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 helicopter pilot reported that he was spraying a cranberry field. During a swath run, numerous bees entered the cockpit via the vent window. He was stung in the left arm twice, and as he tried to remove the bees, he inadvertently pitched the helicopter up. The helicopter climbed to about 35 feet above ground level and the rotor RPM decayed, and the airspeed went to about 30 MPH. The pilot attempted to return to level flight and added power, but he realized that the rotor RPM had decayed too much for a normal recovery. He reported that he "aggressively flared in an effort to reduce my groundspeed." During the flare, the tail boom struck the ground and then the main rotor struck the tail boom. The helicopter yawed right and impacted the terrain.

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

The pilot failed to maintain control of the helicopter when he inadvertently flared the helicopter and the rotor rpm decayed as a result of sustaining bee stings during an aerial application flight. Contributing to the accidnet included the bees and the low altitude.

Full narrative available

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