On February 11, 2004, about 1030 mountain standard time, a Bell 47-G3B2, N8AG, collided with a tree while attempting to land near Salome, Arizona. The helicopter was registered to, and operated by, the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The commercial pilot and passenger were not injured; the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The personal cross-country flight departed from the Wickenburg, Arizona, area about 0930, with a planned destination of a landing zone near Salome. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan had not been filed.

During a telephone interview with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC), the pilot reported that he obtained a weather briefing prior to his departure. The briefer reported turbulent winds in the area but indicated that he did not believe there would be gusty wind conditions in the intended landing area. The pilot had planned to meet a fuel truck at the landing zone. The landing zone was a paved area about 200 feet wide and 300 feet long surrounded by trees, with a hill located to the north.

The pilot attempted to land on a northerly heading because of a slight headwind. He stated that while making the approach, about 25 feet above ground level, a "violent" gust of wind turned the helicopter 90 degrees to the left, and flipped it on its side. The helicopter impacted a tree. He does not normally fly in winds more than 15 miles per hour; however, because the briefer told him that he didn't think there would be gusty winds in the area, the pilot opted to initiate the flight. The pilot did not report any mechanical problems with the helicopter prior to the accident.

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