NTSB Identification: ERA09CA120
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 31, 2008 in Panama City, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/25/2009
Aircraft: SCHWEIZER 269C, registration: N36254
Injuries: 3 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 pilot of a Schweizer 269C helicopter was conducting a non-revenue sightseeing flight, looking for alligators, and he entered an out-of-ground-effect hover at 50-70 feet above ground level. He hovered the helicopter into the wind, which he based on the water conditions. After hovering for about 5 seconds, the pilot pitched forward on the cyclic and raised collective. The helicopter then entered an uncommanded right yaw. The pilot immediately lowered the collective, applied forward cyclic and left anti-torque pedal; however the yaw continued. The helicopter completed at least eight 360-degree turns to the right as he leveled the helicopter and raised the collective. The helicopter subsequently landed in the about 2 feet of water and came to rest upright, without injuries or damage to any property. The pilot believed he experienced a loss of tail rotor authority, and he did not feel any vibration in the anti-torque pedals. He remarked that the nearby trees could have changed the wind direction. The reported wind near the accident site, about the time of the accident, was from 310 degrees at 7 knots. Postaccident examination of the helicopter did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions.

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

The pilot's encounter with a loss of tail rotor effectiveness during an out-of-ground-effect hover.

Full narrative available

Index for Dec2008 | Index of months