DEN05LA089
DEN05LA089

On June 12, 2005, approximately 1635 mountain daylight time, a Bell 206L-3 single-engine helicopter, N81EA, sustained substantial damage when it impacted the terrain following a loss of control while maneuvering near Cascade, Colorado. The commercial pilot and three passengers were not injured. The helicopter was owned and operated by New Air Helicopters, Bend, Oregon. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 business flight. The flight originated Tall Timbers Resort, near Durango, Colorado, at 1400.

According to the pilot's statement, the pilot and three passengers were investigating the status of the resort's trails and to locate and move a repeater (a device that enhances wireless signals and allows communication over a greater distance) that had been placed the day before. According to the pilot, showers and low clouds prevented flying directly to the area. The pilot made three attempts to land at the landing zone (LZ). The first attempt yielded too great of a slope and a large distance from the repeater. The second attempt was much closer and on the same knoll as the repeater, but was unstable. On the third attempt, just slightly above effective translation lift (ETL), at 11,900 feet msl, the pilot executed a left orbit and located a level LZ. As the helicopter approached the LZ, the pilot noticed some "trees were laying over" in a "very strong gust" of wind, and ETL was lost. The pilot attempted a pedal turn into the wind; however, the helicopter resisted an immediate turn, then it "took off to the left." The pilot applied right pedal to arrest the turn. The pilot reduced power, neutralized the pedals, and applied forward cyclic. The rate of turn accelerated and pinned the pilot back into the seat. Subsequently, the right skid and tail boom struck terrain, and the helicopter rolled over.

The pilot noted light rain and partially restricted visibility from fog. He estimated that the winds were out of the northeast at 10 knots gusting to 20 knots.

Examination of the helicopter by the operator revealed no anomalies.




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