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On November 14, 2010, approximately 1545 central standard time, a Brantly B-2B helicopter, N2268U, was substantially damaged upon impact with terrain while attempting to take off from the Beach Ranch Airport (2TE7), Post, Texas. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and the pilot-rated passenger was seriously injured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provision of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The local flight was originating at the time of the accident.
In a telephone interview with the passenger he reported that the pilot was flying the helicopter in order to demonstrate its flight condition. The passenger had flown Brantly helicopters previously, but had not flown one recently so he planned to remain a passenger the entire flight. The passenger reported that the helicopter did not pass though effective translational lift (ETL) at the expected airspeed. The helicopter continued along the ground increasing in ground speed but was not climbing. He added that the engine sounded normal.
According to a statement provided by an eyewitness, the owner sat in the right seat and the passenger was seated in the left seat. The helicopter performed a rolling style take off and had only reached a few feet elevation before the helicopter "twisted" and pitched slightly downward. The "toes" of the helicopter skids began scraping along the ground as the helicopter continued forward. The helicopter traveled past the take off area and into tall grass. The witness then observed the helicopter pitch sharply over as if the skids had hit an obstacle. The helicopter hit the ground nose-first, and rolled over. The witness remarked that the winds were "light from the southwest."
The pilot, age 66, held an airline transport pilot certificate for airplane multi-engine land. The pilot also held a commercial pilot certificate for airplane single engine land, airplane single engine sea, helicopter, and glider. The pilot was issued a second class airman medical certificate issued on July 22, 2008 with limitations for the possession for glasses for near and intermediate vision. On that day, the pilot reported having accumlated 35,620 total hours with 50 hours logged in the previous six months.
Comparing tachometer times from the pilot's initial entry of removal of main rotor blades at a tachometer time of 1,613.5 and the estimated 1,657 hours reported by the responding FAA inspector implies that the pilot could have logged at least 43.5 hours in a Brantly helicopter.
The two-seat helicopter, serial number 430, was manufactured in 1964. It was powered by a 180 horsepower Lycoming IVO-360-A1A engine, serial number L-168-58. Review of copies of maintenance records showed an annual inspection was completed on July 29, 2010, with a recorded tachometer time of 1,637.5 hours.
At 1546 an automated weather reporting station at Winston Field Airport (SNK), Snyder, Texas, located 33 nautical miles southeast of the accident site reported winds from 180 degrees at 10 knots gusting to 16 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 67 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 32F, and a barometric pressure of 29.86 inches of Mercury. Of note, three amateur weather reporting sites located within 15 miles of the accident site all reported winds from the southwest at approximately 8 mph gusting to 11 mph.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The helicopter departed a helipad located at the airfield and followed along runway 11 (2,600 feet by 50 feet turf/dirt strip). The wreckage was located north of the runway in low lying vegetation. An examination of the helicopter and engine conducted by responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors did not reveal any anomalies. FAA inspectors collected 14 gallons of fuel from the fuel tank. Fuel was found under the helicopter and it is unknown how much fuel drained from the tank before the helicopter was moved to the upright position.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot on November 16, 2010 by the office of the South Plains Forensic Pathology, Lubbock, Texas as authorized by the Justice of the Peace, Garza County, Texas.
Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report stated no carbon monoxide, cyanide, or ethanol was detected in specimens. The report noted the following:
Quinine detected in Urine
Quinine detected in Blood
Weight and Balance
The helicopter is certificated to a takeoff gross weight of 1,670 pounds with an associated center of gravity between +104.3 to +107 inches. Utilizing the most recent weight and balance record, the weight of the pilots, 14 gallons of fuel, engine oil, a recently installed GPS unit, and pilot equipment, the estimated weight of the helicopter was at least 1674 pounds, with an associated center of gravity of 103.1 inches.