CHI04LA079
CHI04LA079

On February 28, 2004, about 1200 central standard time, a Robinson R44 helicopter, N7184G, sustained substantial damage when it impacted the ground, after contacting a power line, while departing Burlington Municipal Airport (BUU), near Burlington, Wisconsin. Visual Meteorological Conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot and passenger reported no injuries. The flight's destination was the Grand Geneva Resort Airport (C02), near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

The flight departed from Ann Arbor Municipal Airport (ARB), near Ann Arbor, Michigan, and landed at C02. C02 did not have fuel service. The pilot flew to BUU for fuel for the return flight to ARB that day. The pilot's accident report stated:
I flew into Burlington from the south directly to the fuel depot. There
was a fixed wing aircraft at the south of the depot (not fueling) so I
wanted to stay as far left as I could because of rotor wash. I landed
the craft near the north end of depot for same reason. After receiving
fuel, did my preflight and started the aircraft. I cleared the area did
a slow vertical liftoff and a left pedal turn. I was instantly in the
wires which were [approximately] 10-12 [feet] north of depot and
[approximately] 14-15 [feet] high. Obviously I didn't see the wires
and have never seen wires that close to a fuel depot. ... The tail rotor
got in the wires first and actually 'reeled' me backwards into the pole.
Then the main rotor made contact. Then we hit the ground. It took me
a few seconds to kill the engine as we were being bounced around so
violently.

The pilot did not indicate any mechanical malfunctions in reference to the flight on his report. His safety recommendation was:
The wires should at the very least been marked or identified in some
way. (sign, placard) Most importantly they shouldn't have been so
close to fuel depot 15-20 [feet] or so low. They should have been
underground. This was a very dangerous set-up.

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