On February 10, 2003, about 1100 Alaska standard time, a Hughes 369E helicopter, N500DX, sustained substantial damage when it collided with terrain while maneuvering, about 15 miles north-northwest of Paxson, Alaska. The helicopter was being operated by Delta Aviation, of Delta Junction, Alaska, as a visual flight rules (VFR) aerial surveying flight under Title 14, CFR Part 135, when the accident occurred. The commercial pilot and the 2 passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and company VFR flight following procedures were in effect.

In a written statement to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), the pilot said that he was conducting an aerial staking operation over snow-covered terrain, along a property line when the accident occurred. The pilot stated he flew along the property line about 200 feet above ground level, and a passenger would drop a stake about every 800 feet. The pilot related that weather conditions were VFR and did not contribute to the accident. The pilot said his attention was diverted inside the helicopter to monitor the global positioning system when the helicopter collided with terrain.

The helicopter impacted level terrain in a level attitude and rolled onto its side. The fuselage and rotor system received substantial damage.

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