Preliminary Report: Hilltop takeoff mishap

 - July 30, 2008, 11:27 AM

AEROSPATIALE SA341G, ALPINE, TEXAS, MARCH 6, 2003–At 11:15 a.m. CST Gazelle N16KH was substantially damaged when it crashed during takeoff from a hilltop near Alpine. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Bear Helicopters of El Paso, Texas. The ATP-rated pilot and his three passengers received only minor injuries. The aircraft was not on a flight plan and was operating in VMC on a Part 135 nonscheduled air-taxi flight destined for Marfa, Texas.

According to initial reports, the helicopter initially departed from Marfa and flew to the hilltop near Alpine, where the helicopter landed as a property survey flight. While attempting to take off for the return flight to Marfa the helicopter encountered a gust of wind and hit the ground, coming to rest in a shallow creek.