On June 30, 1996, at 1320 central daylight time, a Bell TH-13T, N96161, operated by a commercial pilot, sustained substantial damage when while performing an aerial application, 18 miles northwest of Mandan, North Dakota, it struck some high line utility wires. The helicopter subsequently impacted the terrain. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The aerial application flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 137. No flight plan was on file, and the pilot reported no injuries. The local flight originated at Mandan, North Dakota.

In his written statement, the pilot said he was spot spraying pasture land with pesticide when he "turned into the sun heading east to follow a ravine. The sun was just right in the sky and was glaring off my bubble were I could not see the power lines until I was too close." When the pilot did see the power lines he "pulled back and to the left to avoid them." The helicopter's lower outside cabin struck the lines and the helicopter "went into the ground tail first."

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector who examined the wreckage at the site found the helicopter resting in the bottom of a ravine, beneath the power lines, oriented on a 270 degree heading. The cockpit bubble windscreen had separated from the frame and was broken. The aircraft frame which formed the cockpit was broken in several places. The pilot's seat was undamaged. The tail boom had broken at mid-span. The aft section of the boom and tail rotor was resting 40 feet south of the main wreckage. The boom exhibited upward bending at the points where it broke. Both tail rotor blades showed cuts in the leading edges at approximately mid-span. The forward frame, which held the engine and transmission, was twisted and bent. Both main rotor blades showed cuts on the inboard leading edges, approximately 5 feet outboard of the hub. There were also cuts on the blades' leading edges 3 feet inboard from the tips. Flight control continuity was established. No anomalies with the engine, engine controls or transmission were found.

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