On May 31, 1995, at 2300 hours Pacific daylight time, an Eurocopter AS-355F1 helicopter, N5781D, landed hard and rolled over while attempting a night off-airport landing near Lost Hills, California. The helicopter was being positioned for an air medical transport flight, under 14 CFR Part 91, by Roger's Helicopters, Inc., dba Roger's Aviation Golden Empire, when the accident occurred. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The certificated commercial pilot and two medical technicians were not injured. The flight originated from Meadows Field, Bakersfield, California, at 2232 hours and was destined for an area 15 statute miles west of Lost Hills, California. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the pilot/operator report, the landing area was being illuminated by two fire trucks positioned adjacent to the area. The pilot and the two medical personnel on the helicopter reported the ambient light conditions as being dark. The pilot indicated he was unable to estimate the helicopters's height above the ground. As the pilot turned to the final approach about 200-300 feet agl, he looked down to check his flight instruments and noted that they indicated a low airspeed (below 10 mph), and also a high rate of descent (500 fpm). The pilot increased collective pitch to slow his descent, and when he looked outside the helicopter for the landing zone, he lost all visual reference to the ground.
Both the pilot and the passengers indicated the helicopter pitched nose down and banked left. The pilot corrected the left roll immediately before landing hard. After touchdown, the helicopter bounced in the air to about 20-30 feet, descended uncontrollably in a slight left roll, and struck the ground again with the rotor blades. The helicopter's fuselage then struck the ground on its left side, spun, and then rolled over and came to rest on the right side.