Hard Landing at Night Causes Fatality

 - August 28, 2009, 8:58 AM

Bell OH-58C, Quitman, Ark., Nov. 16, 2008–The helicopter, registered to and operated by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, was substantially damaged and its passenger killed when it landed hard in a field at night. Operating under Part 91, the helicopter took off from Heber Springs Municipal Airport around 11:30 p.m. and was flying in support of ground units attempting to apprehend people hunting deer illegally at night.

The pilot was wearing night-vision goggles and hovering over a large field at approximately 150 feet when he “suddenly noticed a master caution, low rotor lights, a low rotor audio and a sinking of the aircraft.” He immediately lowered the collective and landed straight down. The 29-year-old pilot, who was uninjured in the crash, held a commercial pilot certificate for single and multi-engine airplanes as well as for rotorcraft. Examination of the airframe and controls showed no mechanical deficiencies, and an abbreviated engine test run did not reveal any deficiencies in the engine that would have prevented it from producing power at the time of the accident.