AEROSPATIALE AS 355F1, MADISON, FLA., JUNE 11, 2003–About 1:29 p.m. EDT an Aerospatiale N217ES, registered to Banc One Leasing and operated by CJ Systems Aviation Group, crashed while attempting to take off from a baseball field in Madison. The aircraft was operating as a Part 135 aeromedical flight in VMC on a company VFR flight plan. The commercial-rated pilot was not injured and the two flight crewmembers and one passenger received minor injuries. The helicopter was substantially damaged.
The pilot told investigators that after the patient had been loaded onto the helicopter and the crewmembers had secured themselves inside, he picked the helicopter up into a three-foot hover and stabilized it. He said he checked the systems for takeoff and at that time the helicopter started an uncommanded hard roll to the right, which he was unable to arrest with left cyclic control inputs. The pilot said the helicopter continued to the right until the main rotor blades struck the ground, causing the helicopter to rotate 90 degrees to the left.
The helicopter came to rest on its right side, and the pilot said that after it came to a stop he tried but was unable to pull the fuel controls to the off position and shut down the engines. At that point he activated the fuel shutoff, interrupting the fuel supply to the engines, and turned off the overhead switches and battery power.
The aircraft came to rest on its left side and a fire ensued. An official with the Madison Fire Department stated that the fire department had equipment and personnel standing by as part of their standard procedure for “off helipad” aeromedical operations. Firefighters quickly responded and applied water, which immediately extinguished the fire. They then extricated all occupants of the helicopter.