CEN11LA317
CEN11LA317

On May 3, 2011, at 1830 central daylight time, a Texas Helicopter Corporation model OH-13E/M74 helicopter, N38096, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain during takeoff near New Columbia, Illinois. The pilot was not injured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Hendrickson Flying Service Incorporated, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was operated without a flight plan. The local aerial-application flight was originating at the time of the accident.

The pilot reported that the helicopter was operating from an uncultivated area of the wheat field being sprayed. The helicopter had been refueled and loaded with fungicide immediately before the accident takeoff. The pilot stated that shortly after takeoff, while accelerating through translational lift, the helicopter encountered a momentary loss of lift consistent with a wind gust and settled into the wheat crop. The helicopter pitched down suddenly as the spray booms made contact with the crop, and subsequently collided with terrain. The helicopter came to rest on its right side about 75 yards from the takeoff position. The engine continued to run after impact and was subsequently turned-off by the pilot using the magneto switch. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the main rotor system, fuselage, and tailboom. The pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation of the helicopter.

The nearest aviation weather observation station with recorded historical weather information was at Barkley Regional Airport (KPAH), about 19 nm south of the accident site, which was equipped with an automated surface observing system (ASOS).

At 1853, the KPAH ASOS reported the following weather conditions: Wind 320 degrees at 6 knots; visibility 10 miles; sky clear; temperature 16 degrees Celsius; dew point 1 degrees Celsius; altimeter setting 30.22 inches of mercury.

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