NTSB Identification: WPR09LA411
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, August 21, 2009 in Tonopah, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/26/2011
Aircraft: ROBINSON R44, registration: N19DV
Injuries: 3 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot was providing aerial surveillance of a car that was in an off-road rally race. A passenger recalled that they had just climbed over a hill, and made a low banking turn to get behind a car that was in the race. He saw a steep cliff-like ridge ahead, and was concerned about hitting it. As they cleared the ridge by about 20 feet, he heard the engine sound change pitch. The helicopter banked right, and slowed down. The passenger heard the pilot say "no" several times as well as “come on,” followed by the sounding of a horn. The helicopter collided with the ground, touching down on the skids. The helicopter turned as it went downhill, and rolled over onto its right side. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The density altitude was calculated to be about 10,300 feet. Examination of the performance charts for the helicopter indicated that, at the weather parameters for this flight, the power required for the maneuvers attempted exceeded the power available.

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

The pilot’s failure to maneuver the helicopter within its performance capabilities while at a low altitude in mountainous terrain and in high density altitude conditions.

Full narrative available

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