On July 14, 1997, approximately 1220 mountain daylight time, a Bell 47G-3B, N8494E, registered to Roger & Michael Hall, and being flown by a commercial pilot doing business as Eagle Aviation, Inc., incurred substantial damage during a hard landing, following a total loss of power while returning to his fueling station, approximately 11 miles east of Idaho Falls, Idaho. The pilot sustained minor injuries. No flight plan had been filed and visual meteorological conditions existed at the time. The flight, which had just completed an aerial application run, was to have been operated under 14CFR137, and originated from a location adjacent to the spray site.

The pilot reported that he "was spraying a potato field. As I made the last pass I looked down and noticed my gas gauge showing low. So I turned around and head(ed) back to the load truck."

He continued reporting "I was over a sod field when the engine quit. At that time I was about 250 to 300 yd (yards) from the truck and at (sic) about 10 to 15 f(ee)t above the ground and at (sic) about 25 kts.

He concluded reporting "When it quit I did not have the time to do any auto(rotation). It stopped and I hit the ground."

An altitude of 15 feet (above ground) at an airspeed of 25 knots places the aircraft on the boundary of the envelope for a successful autorotation (refer to CHART I).

An inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration's Flight Standards District Office, Salt Lake City, Utah, traveled to the site. His examination confirmed that the fuel tanks were empty.

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