NTSB Identification: WPR13LA303
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 28, 2013 in Missoula, MT
Aircraft: BELL 206L-3, registration: N868H
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 aircraft accident report.

On June 28, 2013, about 1310 mountain daylight time, a Bell 206L-3 helicopter, N868H, was substantially damaged following impact with terrain while maneuvering near Missoula, Montana. The commercial pilot was seriously injured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Hillcrest Aircraft Company in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 133 as a proficiency check flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and a flight plan was not filed. The helicopter had departed the Missoula International Airport (MSO), about 1200.

In a post-accident interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), the pilot stated that while in the process of demonstrating water drops, he made a shallow approach with the long line bucket attached, and when the bucket entered the water something didn’t feel right; he thought he was settling with power. The pilot further stated that he tried to descend into good air, but when the line tightened the nose of the helicopter dipped forward and down. The pilot revealed that when he pulled aft on the cyclic to correct, he felt the main rotor strike the tail, which resulted in the helicopter to spin to the left. The aircraft subsequently impacted the water and came to rest upright. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to its tail boom, tail rotor drive shaft, and undercarriage.

At 1253, the MSO weather reporting facility, located about 1 nautical mile northeast of the accident site, reported wind calm, sky clear, temperature 28 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 11 degrees C, and an altimeter reading of 30.26 inches of mercury.

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