NTSB Identification: WPR09TA353
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Friday, July 17, 2009 in Willow Creek, CA
Aircraft: Croman SH-3H, registration: N613CK
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

On July 17, 2009, about 1530 Pacific daylight time, a Croman SH-3H, N613CK, collided with a tank near Willow Creek, California. The United States Forest Service (USFS) was operating the public-use helicopter under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 133. The commercial rated first pilot sustained serious injuries, and the commercial rated second pilot sustained minor injuries. The helicopter rolled over and sustained substantial damage to the main rotor blades, fuselage, and tail rotor. The local public-use flight departed Willow Creek about 1430 on a firefighting mission. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The operator reported that the pilots were getting water out of a tank, and had made several circuits. During this liftoff, the helicopter experienced a “droop condition.” Witnesses indicated that the helicopter then collided with the tank. The helicopter banked until the main rotor blades contacted the ground. The left main landing gear sheared off, and the helicopter rolled over. The pilots were able to extricate themselves from the helicopter. The first pilot was taken to a hospital for overnight observation.

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