WPR12CA351
WPR12CA351

The pilot reported that while flying in a canyon at about 300 feet above ground level (agl) he spotted a black bear, which prompted him to maneuver the helicopter for a closer look. The pilot stated that he then descended to about 50 feet agl before flying upslope, but allowed his airspeed to drop below 20 knots, which was outside the helicopter’s ability to hover. The pilot reported that at about this time he received a Low Rotor RPM warning, took corrective action to maintain sufficient [rotor] RPM, but the helicopter began to settle. The pilot added that without sufficient room to gain airspeed and lift, he was going to have to put the helicopter down. During the attempted landing the helicopter impacted several trees and the ground before coming to rest on its right side. The tail section, tail rotor blades, main rotor blades, main cabin, and skids suffered extensive damage. The pilot reported no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.

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