On June 13, 1997, about 1100 eastern daylight time, an Enstrom F-280C, N5700J, was substantially damaged during a collision with wires and descent into water near Sharon, Vermont. The certificated private pilot and passenger received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that originated at Lebanon, New Hampshire, about 1045, destined for Sharon. No flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a written statement, the pilot stated that the purpose of the flight was to land in a school yard and give a speech to students about helicopters. After departure from Lebanon, the pilot flew to Sharon, and circled the school.

The pilot further stated:

"...I then turned a slow 180 degrees, lining up with the river. After crossing over the Interstate bridge, I started a descent into the valley. This particular year my passenger requested we go lower into the valley...I slowed the ship down to approx 40 knots, and descended lower for a few seconds maintaining an approach to an island in from of us...I had just started to abort the approach to the island and started a slow climb when I caught the wire ahead...I tried to ascend immediately, but still caught the top high tension lines...suddenly the wire let go...I started a forward flight to the island to land...I heard and felt a severe noise followed by a loss of tail rotor control...I cut back power to stop [the] helicopter from spinning...The helicopter landed in 2 feet of water..."

According to a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector, the helicopter came to rest in about 2 to 3 feet of water. Impact damage to the helicopter from contact with the wires began on the upper cabin area, and extended to the main rotor mast and main rotor blades. Examination of the helicopter revealed no preimpact failure of the flight controls or engine.

The helicopter struck wires that extended across the river, about 100 feet above the water, approximately 3/4 of a mile west of the intended school landing area.

In the NTSB Form 6120.1/2, the pilot listed 429 hours of total flight experience, of which 193 were in helicopters, and 152 hours of helicopter pilot-in-command experience. The pilot did not provide experience in make and model, but did list 1.3 hours of helicopter experience during the previous 90 days.

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