On January 7, 1997, approximately 1210 mountain standard time, a Hughes 369HS, N9089F, registered to and operated by R.C. Fugate Enterprises, was destroyed when it collided with terrain during landing near Wellington, Colorado. The commercial pilot and one passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated at Fort Collins, Colorado, on January 7, 1997, approximately 1115. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot said he purchased the helicopter in December 1996, and ferried it from Florida to Colorado without incident. According to NTSB's data base, N9089F was destroyed in a fatal accident June 26, 1992, in Labelle, Florida (see MIA 92-F-A142).
The pilot told investigators he had control problems and the helicopter "wanted to spin." Two witnesses corroborated this report. He made a precautionary landing in a field and monitored the engine instruments. He did not secure the engine down nor get out to inspect the helicopter. The pilot said he performed some "hovering checks." Finding nothing amiss, the pilot took off again and climbed to 6,000 feet. Aircraft control became more difficult, so the pilot reduced power and autorotated to a field. As he applied collective control to flare for landing, the helicopter rolled and the main rotor blades struck the ground.
The wreckage was examined at Beegles Aircraft Service, Greeley, Colorado, on January 9, 1997. Representatives from McDonnell Douglas Helicopters and Allison Turbines assisted in the examination. No evidence of a mechanical failure or pre-existing malfunction was found. Control continuity was established throughout.
The pilot asked another helicopter flight pilot (who is also a certified, but not current, helicopter instructor) to help him ferry the helicopter from Florida to Colorado. The instructor told investigators the pilot "had no idea what he was doing. He was far behind the aircraft." Asked to elaborate, the instructor said that on the flight back to Colorado, the pilot habitually depressed the left pedal, causing the helicopter to fly in a shallow left skid. On several occasions, the pilot made several complete 360 degree turns. On approach to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, the instructor told the pilot to enter a left traffic pattern and land on runway 35. The instructor said that as they descended to traffic pattern altitude, the pilot lowered collective control but did not apply compensating right pedal. This resulted in a "full-blown autorotation to landing." The instructor said he had to apply power to cushion the landing. The departure from Pine Bluff was to be from runway 22 because the wind was from the southwest at 18 knots. The pilot lifted off facing downwind, made a 360 degree turn, and moved laterally for some distance before climbing out.
The instructor said that on December 27, 1996, he flew with the pilot again. He said the pilot lifted off between a row of T-hangars and immediately the helicopter began drifting to the right. The pilot did not correct and almost struck one of the hangars. The helicopter yawed left due to the slow airspeed and torque, and the pilot was slow in correcting. The pilot then told the instructor he wanted to practice autorotations. The instructor said the pilot's first attempt resulted in a left autorotation at 20 KIAS and 78 pounds of torque indicated. During the second autorotation, the pilot "rolled the throttle off and the nose pitched down." The pilot did not apply collective control nor right pedal. The instructor told the pilot he "needed a lot of work," and has not flown with him since.
On the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report, it was noted the pilot did not indicate the date of his last biennial flight review (BFR), nor the aircraft in which it was taken. The pilot was asked to submit a photostatic copy of the logbook entry, indicating the BFR had been successfully completed. The pilot was unable to do so. Examination of his most recent logbook (attached), containing flights between December 10 and 31, 1996, disclosed the pilot logged all the flights with the flight instructor as "dual (instruction) received." The entries contained no instructor endorsement or signature.