On May 1, 2000, about 1230 Alaska daylight time, a high skid equipped Bell 206B helicopter, N301MH, was substantially damaged during a collision with snow-covered terrain, about 21 miles northeast of Homer, Alaska, about latitude 59 degrees, 45 minutes north, and longitude 150 degrees, 51 minutes west. The helicopter was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) on-demand passenger flight under Title 14, CFR Part 135, when the accident occurred. The helicopter was operated by Maritime Helicopters Inc., Homer, Alaska. The airline transport certificated pilot, and the two passengers, were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. A VFR flight plan was filed. The flight originated at the Homer Airport, Homer, at 1130. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), on May 1, at 1747, the Chief Pilot for the operator reported the helicopter was landing at Bradley Lake, located on the Kenai Peninsula. The helicopter pilot was landing next to a gauging station that was surrounded by snow-covered terrain. Flat light conditions existed at the lake, and light drizzle was falling. The sky conditions were 500 feet overcast, and the visibility was about 1 mile. The pilot was utilizing the gauging station as his landing reference point, but during the landing approach, he flew past the station and had no other visual references. The skids of the helicopter contacted the snow, and the pilot applied upward collective pitch. He attempted to stabilize the helicopter in a hover, but began drifting forward and to the left. The left landing gear skid contacted the snow, and the helicopter rolled onto its left side.
The Pilot/Operator report (NTSB form 6120.1/2) submitted by the pilot, included a written statement. In the statement, the pilot said that during the landing approach, he passed the gauging unit that he was using as a reference. After passing the unit, he focused his attention on the snow in front of the helicopter. When the helicopter touched down on the snow, the pilot said he thought the helicopter was still one or two feet above the snow surface. He brought the helicopter to a hover, but the helicopter drifted forward about 30 feet, and about 60 to 75 feet to the left. The left skid contacted the snow, and the helicopter rolled over. In the Recommendation Section of the 6120.1/2 form where comments can be added about how the accident could have been prevented, the pilot noted "additional white-out training."
Both passengers in the helicopter reported that during the landing approach, the helicopter developed a high sink rate and touched down hard on the snow, beyond the gauging station. The terrain presented no visual references, and one passenger described the visual conditions as "the inside of a ping pong ball." Both passengers said the weather conditions included bright, filtered sunlight through overcast skies, and a light rain.