Factual Report: JetRanger Crashes during Photo Shoot

 - October 2, 2009, 10:31 AM

Bell 206B, Nokomis, Fla., Sept. 11, 2007– The helicopter was destroyed when it crashed into the ocean offshore of Nokomis around 10 a.m., while serving as an aerial photography platform. The pilot received serious injuries and the two passengers were killed in the accident. The JetRanger was engaged in taking pictures of high-performance boats, and on the last shoot of the day the pilot reported he was having difficulty communicating and coordinating speed and maneuvers with the powerboat.

According to the pilot, at 9:50 he looked at his watch and noted that he had approximately 21 gallons of fuel left and told the photographer that they needed to finish the shoot quickly so he could land and refuel. The pilot told investigators that he remembers beginning another photo run and communicating further with the photographer; his next memory was of surfacing in the water.

According to the boat captain, the helicopter was keeping station with the boat, flying seven to 10 feet above the water about 100 yards ahead and to the left at approximately 80 knots when it lost altitude, climbed slightly and appeared to glide into the water at a steady angle. The helicopter disintegrated on impact.

An examination of the recovered wreckage showed heavy damage to the engine
as a result of the accident and saltwater immersion, while dirt, rust and corrosion deposits were found throughout the powerplant. The helicopter was registered to Biscayne Helicopters and operated by Southland Helicopters.