Another firefighting 1970s vintage Bell 212 has crashed. But unlike the crash in Canada last week, this time the pilot survived, swimming to safety after making what is being characterized as an emergency landing in California’s Lake Shastina on Wednesday. The pilot, the sole occupant, was coming in for a water pickup when witnesses reported hearing a loud boom, followed by the helicopter settling into the water and momentarily floating atop before sinking.
The 1973 Bell 212, N911KW, registered to Rogers Helicopters in Fresno, was being operated under contract to battle the Lava Fire in Siskiyou County. The fire broke out on June 24 near Weed and has consumed 25,000 acres.
At this time, the crash in Canada and the one in California appear unrelated. The Canadian crash wreckage revealed that the main rotor hub strap pins failed, resulting in the departure of the rotor hub and main rotor blades from the aircraft. The accident prompted emergency airworthiness directives calling for the grounding of certain Bell 204, 205, and 212 series helicopters until the suspect pins could be replaced.