On August 17, 1997, about 1300 Pacific daylight time, N9571, a Bell 47G helicopter, operated by the owner/pilot, impacted terrain and was substantially damaged during landing near Wellpinit, Washington. The private pilot, the sole occupant, received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR 91.

According to an officer with the Bureau of Indian Affairs who arrived at the accident site, no mechanical malfunctions were reported. The officer stated that the pilot was attempting to land on a gravel bar on a bank of the Spokane River. During the landing, a main rotor blade contacted the ground and the helicopter tumbled onto the rocks.

In a written statement to the Safety Board (attached), the pilot stated: "I flew to the lake and circled the landing area once. I then came in from over the water and intended to land on the beach. As I was landing on the beach, the [main rotor] blade struck the bank to the left of the helicopter. I then dropped the last 2 or 3 feet to the beach."

The pilot also reported that there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions. According to records kept by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot was operating a restricted-category aircraft on the personal flight. Also, the pilot's FAA Third Class Medical Certificate had expired about 8 months prior to the accident.

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