Preliminary Reports: Bell Runs Into Trouble in Search

 - September 14, 2006, 4:58 AM

Bell 206L-3 LongRanger, Taos, N.M., July 12, 2006–An NBC Channel 4 Eyewitness News helicopter, operated by AeroWest Helicopters of Albuquerque, N.M., was assisting in an air search for a missing person. The LongRanger had taken off from Double Eagle II Airport and landed at Taos Municipal Airport to refuel. It took off with approximately 525 pounds of fuel to return to the Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area. Spotting some people coming out of the woods, the pilot attempted to land in an open area, circling three times at about 40 to 50 knots. Thirty feet above the ground, he applied forward cyclic to increase airspeed for a run-on landing. The helicopter began to yaw to the right, so the pilot applied full left antitorque, but the yaw continued. At 10 feet agl, he reduced power and applied forward cyclic. The helicopter hit the ground nose first, rolled to the left and landed on its left side. The commercial pilot and passenger suffered minor injuries; the helicopter was seriously damaged.