NTSB Identification: CEN13FA010
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 11, 2012 in Blanco, TX
Aircraft: Robinson Helicopter Company R44 II, registration: N474FA
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 11, 2012, about 2006 central daylight time, a Robinson Helicopter Company model R44 II, N474FA, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain during cruise flight near Blanco, Texas. The flight instructor, passenger-receiving-instruction, and one additional passenger were fatally injured. The helicopter was operated by Veracity Aviation LLC, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the instructional flight, which departed Gillespie County Airport (T82), Fredericksburg, Texas, approximately 1956, enroute to Huber Airpark Civic Club LLC Airport (E70), Seguin, Texas.

According to the operator of the helicopter, the purpose of the flight was a roundtrip cross-country flight from the operator’s home base at E70, located in Seguin, Texas, to Midland International Airport (KMAF), in Midland, Texas. The return flight from KMAF to E70 had departed shortly after 1716, according to fueling documentation obtained from the fix-based operator that serviced the accident helicopter with 37.7 gallons of 100 low-lead aviation fuel.

There were no witnesses to the helicopter arriving at T82 or while it was being refueled at one of the airport’s self-serve fueling stations. At 1936, the accident helicopter was fueled with 15.92 gallons of 100 low-lead aviation fuel, according to fueling documentation and credit card receipts. A witness, who was also a helicopter pilot, subsequently reported seeing a Robinson R44 helicopter depart toward the southeast; however, due to the dark night conditions he was unable to discern the helicopter’s registration number or paint color. He noted that the helicopter had departed from the self-service fueling station near the main airport building.

At 2006, the United States Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC), located at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, received a 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal assigned to the accident helicopter. About 18 minutes later, the AFRCC received their first of several triangulated positions for the active ELT signal. The accident site was subsequently located, with the assistance of airborne and ground units, at 0824 the morning following the accident. The wreckage was located in a sparsely populated area comprised of hilly terrain.

The closest weather observing station was located at the Gillespie County Airport (T82), Fredericksburg, Texas, about 22 miles northwest of the accident site. At 1955, the automated surface observing system reported the following weather conditions: wind 140 degrees magnetic at 5 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 1,900 feet above ground level, temperature 23 degrees Celsius, dew point 22 degrees Celsius, altimeter setting 30.10 inches of mercury.

The United States Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department reported that the sunset and end of civil twilight at the departure airport was at 1908 and 1932, respectively.

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