On March 27, 2003, at 1615 eastern standard time, a Bell BHT-47-G3B2A, N47SN, was substantially damaged while attempting to land on a dolly at a private helipad in Lexington, Kentucky. The certificated commercial pilot was not injured. No flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated from the private helipad, about 1515. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a written statement, the pilot explained that the helicopter had not been flown in a long time and he was flying it "to exercise the machine." About 20 minutes into the flight, he noticed an occasional "shuffle," or what felt like an "out of balance condition." He stated that as the flight progressed, this condition happened more frequently, and he decided to return to the helipad.

As he approached the landing site, the engine lost power and settled to the ground with the engine running. He was about 15 feet from the dolly he intended to land on. He checked all the gauges for any abnormal indication, and the engine responded to the throttle travel, so he lifted to a hover and started to move toward the dolly.

As he was halfway over the dolly, there were more oscillations and the helicopter became harder to control. The helicopter then started to drift to the left, and the engine lost power. The pilot was unable to stop the drift or the descent. As the helicopter touched down, the left skid collapsed and the helicopter slid, rolled onto its left side, and came to rest against a fence. The engine was not running at that time.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector performed an on-scene examination of the helicopter. According to the inspector, examination of the helicopter revealed that the main rotor blades were separated from ground contact, and the tailboom was fractured. Flight control continuity was established for all flight control surfaces. Fuel was found in the carburetor, and no mechanical anomalies were noted.

The pilot reported a total of 8,479 hours of flight time, of which, 30 hours were in make and model.

The pilot also reported no mechanical anomalies with the helicopter.

Weather reported at Blue Grass Airport (LEX),Lexington, Kentucky, 8 miles west of the accident site, at 1354, included winds from 190 degrees at 11 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, and clear skies.

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