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On April 27, 2004, approximately 1500 mountain daylight time, a Schramm Helicycle experimental/homebuilt helicopter, N3275Q, was destroyed after impacting terrain while maneuvering near Montour, Idaho. The aircraft was registered to and operated by a private individual. The private pilot, sole occupant of the aircraft, sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, and a flight plan was not filed. The flight departed Montour at 1406.
In a telephone interview with the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC), personnel who worked with the pilot reported that during the morning of the accident the pilot was doing a photo shoot prior to landing at Montour for fuel. An employee reported that 5 gallons of JP4 fuel was added to the center tank, which is elevated between the left and right tanks and fills the lower outboard tanks by gravity. The employee further reported that the fuel was supplied with the company's own equipment. The employee stated that after the fueling was completed the aircraft's departure was witnessed by ground personnel who were also in communication with the pilot. The helicopter was observed until it went out of sight around a hill, which was the last time it was heard from. No witnesses reported seeing the accident and the pilot was not in radio contact with any air traffic control facilities, or automated flight service stations.
At approximately 1900 on April 27th, an alert notification (ALNOT) was issued for the aircraft. According to law enforcement personnel, at 0819 on the morning of April 28th, the aircraft was located by search and rescue personnel partially submerged in the Payette River about 1 mile northwest of Montour.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate for helicopters. On his last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) application for a third-class medical certificate, which was dated September 30, 2003, he reported a total flight experience of 1,500 hours, with 10 hours in the last 6 months.
A weather observation was taken about 7 minutes before the accident at the Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field (BOI), Boise, Idaho, which was located approximately 25 miles south-southeast of the accident site. According to the observation, the wind was 340 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 statue miles, sky clear, temperature 80 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 34 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.91 inches of Mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Examination of the accident site by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness inspector, revealed extensive damage due to impact forces with the water. The pilot's seat belts, shoulder harness and their attachments were intact. The wreckage was in several pieces with the turbine engine and accessories separate from the helicopter's airframe structure. Both rotor blades were still attached to the mast. One rotor blade was bent up just outboard of the mast attach point and was missing the outboard 5 feet of the blade. The other blade remained in one piece and slightly bent down. The inspector reported observing numerous rubber hoses with only one automotive hose clamp securing the ends. The tail rotor, tail rotor drive shaft, and a major portion of the empennage of the helicopter were never recovered. Also, the lower two fuel tanks were not recovered. The inspector reported that during his inspection the main rotor mast was free to turn and remained connected to the gearbox. Control continuity could not be determined due to the extensive damage to the rod ends and tubular components of the flight control system. The inspector observed a small metal arm that was welded to the tail rotor pedal control torque tube, approximately 1 inch inboard and below the pilot's left pedal, was broken off. The pedal system was removed and forwarded to the IIC for further evaluation. The inspector related that ground personnel who assisted and observed the pilot takeoff confirmed that the pilot was wearing a helmet equipped with a digital movie camera. The helmet and camera have not been recovered.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the GEM County Coroner's Office, Emmett, Idaho, on April 29, 2004. The cause of death was listed as "Blunt force trauma secondary to a helicopter accident".
A toxicology examination, performed by the FAA's Toxicological and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on May 27, 2004, was negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol, but listed Propanolol detected in Blood and Doxylamine present in Urine. Propanolol is a prescription blood pressure medication. Doxylamine is an over-the-counter antihistamine.
TEST AND RESEARCH
The rudder pedal assembly was sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory Division, Washington, DC., for examination. The Senior Metallurgist reported the rudder pedal assembly was fractured at the intersection of the left pedal output arm and the cross tube. The cross tube fracture was wholly contained in the cross tube material immediately adjacent to the output arm weld bead. Magnified visual examinations of the fracture surfaces and surrounding materials found features and deformation patterns consistent with a bending overstress separation. No preexisting cracking or weld defects were present. The cross tube was bent both vertically and horizontally and deformation was present at the right output arm similar to the left, but it was not fractured.
The aircraft was released to the owner's representative on May 28, 2004.