LAX00LA328
LAX00LA328

On September 7, 2000, at 1020 hours Pacific daylight time, a Hughes 269C, N50638, collided with power lines and then impacted the ground in a pasture near Rancho Murrieta, California. The helicopter, owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91, was destroyed in the collision sequence and postimpact fire. The private pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from a private strip about 0900 to herd cattle at one of the ranch sites.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, about 1028, the local fire department was notified of a fire and downed power lines in the vicinity of the accident. They did not know that there had been an aircraft accident. When they arrived on-scene they observed the helicopter in the middle of the fire.

The FAA further reported that in January 1993, the pilot was involved in a similar accident where he was rounding up a herd of cattle on his property. The helicopter struck power lines, and crashed.

WITNESS INFORMATION

A deputy from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department interviewed the spouse of the pilot. She stated that about 0900 she went for a run while her husband departed in his helicopter to herd cattle at the "Boys Ranch." She expected him home about noon. When she returned to the house about 0930, an individual at the residence told her that there was smoke on the hill. She attempted to call the pilot on his cell phone several times, but received no answer.

At that point, she heard the fire engine sirens. When she arrived on scene, she stated that the helicopter belonged to the pilot.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot's logbooks were not available for review by the Safety Board.

Review of the FAA Airman Certification records disclosed that the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land (ASEL) issued on February 17, 1946. He received additional aircraft ratings for ASEL instrument On March 16, 1959, and a rotorcraft-helicopter rating on January 14, 1966. On December 27, 1969, he received an additional rating for airplane multiengine land - limited to center thrust.

Review of the FAA Medical Certification records revealed that the pilot held a third-class medical issued on May 26, 1999, with limitations for vision. At that time he reported his flight time as over 10,000 hours, with 70 hours accrued in the last 6 months. The Safety Board investigator estimated the pilot's total flight time, over 11,000 hours, from information gathered on his medical applications from the preceding years.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The helicopter airframe, engine, and maintenance logbooks were unavailable for review by the Safety Board.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The County of Sacramento Coroner's Office conducted an autopsy on the pilot on September 8, 2000. A toxicological analysis was performed by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, from samples obtained during the autopsy. The results of the analysis were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol and drugs.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

According to the coroner's investigation report of the accident, the Sacramento Fire Department responded to a 911 call made by the pilot's wife, reporting smoke on the family property. The firemen found the pilot and the burned helicopter wreckage as they extinguished the fire. Severed power lines were found 60 feet northwest of the decedent that were connected to a power pole about 40 feet northwest of the severed ends of the wires. The coroner's office concluded that the helicopter had collided with the wires, severing them, resulting in the grass fire that burned the helicopter wreckage.

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