Crops Saved, But Three Helos Down
Three helicopters being used to warm crops against cold temperatures and frost overnight in Western Palm Beach County, Fla., crashed in the early morning hours of December 8 in separate accidents between 2:10 and 7:40 a.m. The accidents involved two Robinson R44s and one Bell 206L-3. Only the pilot of the 206, the most extensively damaged of the three aircraft, sustained serious injuries. That pilot told investigators that he inadvertently turned his helicopter into the ground as the result of fatigue. The helicopters are credited with saving millions of dollars worth of crops and are used to push air that is typically 3 to 10 degrees warmer at 30 to 50 feet agl down onto the crops and the colder ground.