ANC04LA024
ANC04LA024

On February 18, 2004, about 1300 Eastern standard time, a skid-equipped Robinson R-44 helicopter, N323TC, sustained substantial damage when it collided with terrain during aerial taxi for takeoff from the Spruce Creek Airport, Daytona Beach, Florida. The helicopter was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) business flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The helicopter was operated by Timberline Aviation Services LLC, a real estate development company, of Knoxville, Tennessee. The airline transport certificated pilot and the two passengers received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local area flight, and no flight plan was filed.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), on February 19, the pilot, who is an employee of the real estate development company, reported that the purpose of the flight was to look over an area for a prospective airpark renovation. The pilot added that gusty wind conditions prevailed during the accident takeoff. He said that just after takeoff, as he hover taxied the helicopter towards runway 05, a strong gust of wind from the right pushed the helicopter to the left, and over an area of grass-covered terrain. He said that the helicopter subsequently descended, the left skid contacted an area of grass-covered terrain, and the helicopter began to roll to the left. As the roll continued, the main rotor blades contacted the grass-covered terrain, and the helicopter rolled onto its left side. The helicopter sustained structural damage to the tail boom, fuselage, and to the main rotor and tail rotor drive systems.

The pilot noted that there were no preaccident mechanical anomalies with the helicopter.

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