Power droop.
PIC: Comm, public use.
Willow Creek CA.
Sikorsky SH3.
Prelim report (2 injuries).

While the crew of a US Forest Service/Croman Helicopters Sikorsky SH3H was attempting to get water from a tank on 07-17-09, the helicopter experienced a droop in power when the pilot increased collective for takeoff. The helicopter crew was operating the SH3 as a public use aircraft performing a fire fighting mission when the accident occurred.

Witnesses reported that, after completing several circuits, the helicopter hit the water tank and banked until the main rotor blades struck the ground and the aircraft rolled over. The helicopter sustained substantial damage but the pilots were able to extricate themselves.

Inflight loss of control.
PIC: Private, Part 91.
Raphine VA.
Pilatus PC12.
Prelim report (4 killed).

On 07-05-09, the pilot of a Pilatus PC12/45 enroute TEB–VDF (Van­denberg, Tampa FL) reported losing his panel and that he was “in the weather.” The aircraft crashed in Raphine VA, killing all 4 occupants. The pilot, who was on an IFR flight­plan, had filed for FL 260 and was later given FL 300. After several sectors, the pilot asked ATC if there was clear weather ahead. ATC advised the pilot that radar depicted heavy weather from his 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock position. The pilot requested a deviation due to weather to the right 40–50°. He then asked for a climb to FL 320, which was approved.

Radar data shows that the aircraft climbed to only FL 310 and turned from a southwesterly heading to a westerly, then back to a southerly heading. ATC gave him a frequency change and when the pilot contacted the next ATC sector, the pilot stated he needed “a little dee gee heading—I lost my panel.” The controller asked the pilot to clarify which panel he’d lost but the pilot just requested a heading. ATC provided a heading of 230°.

The pilot then reported that the altitude might “move a little bit” so the controller immediately advised another aircraft to stop a climb which was below the accident aircraft. ATC asked the pilot if he would be able to maintain altitude due to other traffic. The pilot did not respond to the first radio attempt, on the second the pilot reported the aircraft was in a descent but the rest of the transmission was unreadable. There were no other transmissions from the accident pilot. The last 2 radar targets available on the radar data showed the aircraft descending from FL 287 to FL 221 in 14 sec.

Night wire strike.
PIC: Comm, Part 91.
Boonsboro MD.
Robinson R44.
Prelim report (4 killed).

A Robinson R44 was destroyed on 07-23-09 when it hit power lines in cruise flight. The commercial pilot and 3 passengers were killed along Interstate 70 at night when the pilot after several hours of weather delays attempted to fly from HGR (Hagers­town MD) to FDK (Frederick MD). A witness reported seeing the helicopter fly over I-70 and noticed fog about 50 ft above the ground. He said he saw the helicopter fly into low clouds, turn around and head west when it struck the power lines, hit the ground and burst into flames.

Engine failure after takeoff.
PIC: ATP. IMP (Imperatriz MA, Brazil)
Piper PA34 Seneca.
Prelim report (2 injuries).

On 07-03-09, a Piper PA-34-200T was substantially damaged shortly after takeoff when it lost power on one engine. The cargo flight was departing IMP at the time. The pilot attempted to return to the field but landed short of the runway.