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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: CEN18LA334
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, August 16, 2018 in Kindred, ND
Aircraft: Schweizer 300, registration: N3625Z
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 16, 2018, about 1030 central daylight time, a Schweizer 300 helicopter, N3625Z, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Kindred, North Dakota. The commercial pilot was uninjured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight that departed about 1015 from a farmstead near McLeod, North Dakota, with the intended destination of Hector International Airport (FAR), Fargo, North Dakota.

The pilot reported that while enroute direct to FAR, at 1,000 ft above ground level, he heard a loud audible "snap" followed by a quick yaw of the helicopter. He immediately pushed the cyclic control forward and lowered the collective. He observed a "split needle" indication. The throttle still controlled engine speed normally; however, the main rotor speed did not respond to his throttle changes. He stated that the engine continued to run normally. He noted that he still had directional control through the antitorque pedals. The pilot immediately entered an autorotation and made one revolution while he located a suitable landing area. He maneuvered the helicopter to a nearby wheat field for landing. He estimated that the wheat crop was between 2-3 ft high. The pilot stated that the helicopter landed level on the skids, but it still had forward ground speed that caused the helicopter to briefly pitch nose-up. The helicopter subsequently pitched-down before slowly rolling over onto its right side. The pilot reported that the engine continued to run after impact, and that he secured the engine by moving the mixture control aft to cutoff fuel flow. After the accident, he was able to exit the helicopter unaided and without injury. The pilot stated that he observed smoke from the right side of the helicopter (possibly near the damaged right fuel tank) and that the helicopter caught on fire after a few minutes. A majority of helicopter was destroyed by the postimpact fire.