Petroleum Helicopters pilot Charles Getchell, 56, of Milton, Fla. was killed March 26 and his Bell 206L-4 destroyed when it hit an offshore platform and the water following a loss of control during take off on a repositioning flight from the Eugene Island 188P platform in the Gulf of Mexico. A witness, airborne at the time in another helicopter, reported that as the accident helicopter began to takeoff to the northeast, its nose rose “moderately” from the platform to an approximate 10- to 20-deg nose-high attitude, with the heels of the skids remaining on the platform. The helicopter pivoted right 15- to 25-deg and became airborne to approximately two feet above the platform.
The helicopter then began to drift left while its nose rose to an approximate 40-deg attitude. It continued to increase to a nose-high attitude of approximately 80 deg and it drifted to the north side of the platform. The helicopter’s skids appeared to touch down vertically and come to rest on the platform’s north-side safety fence. After hesitating momentarily, the helicopter began to slide downward off the safety fence. As the helicopter continued downward, it was rotating to the right. The helicopter “fell 100- to 150 feet nose-first into the water,” and remained visible for approximately five- to 10 sec before sinking from view. Weather at the time of the accident was reported as VMC.