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by the current on-duty command pilot. They discussed
the weather, and he confirmed that visual meteorological
conditions (VMC) prevailed at both the departure and
arrival airports. He was aware that a weather front was
moving through the area, and that he would most likely
encounter IMC conditions while enroute. He planned to
use Tehachapi airport as an alternate landing site should
At 0120, they loaded the injured dog into the rear left
footwell, along with the Canine Division Chief who was
seated in the rear right seat. The departure was uneventful,
but as they approached Tehachapi they encountered light
rain, strong wind, and low clouds. Both the pilot and the
TFO were wearing NightVision Goggles (NVG’s) throughout
The pilot decided to proceed, and wanted to see if Sand
Canyon was passable. However, once they got beyond the
lights of the city, he lost visual reference after flying into
what appeared to be clouds. He reported flying at about
500 feet agl at that time, and was concerned that returning
might cause them to collide with obstacles in the area such
as wind turbines. He elected to slow the helicopter and
initiate a gradual descent with the hope of exiting the clouds.
During the descent he realized that the windshield had in
fact fogged up, and as such, he turned on the demister. A
short time later a highway suddenly came into view and
the helicopter struck the ground.
The helicopter struck the highway surface, bounced back into
the air, and rotated about 180 degrees. The pilot maintained
a low hover and could now see the lights ofTehachapi ahead.
The helicopter appeared to be handling normally, and was
not vibrating or making any unusual sounds, so he elected
to return to Tehachapi Airport. Before landing he asked the
TFO to open the door to observe the skids; they appeared
intact. The TFO attempted to utilize the Forward Looking
Infrared Camera (FLIR) mounted on the nose, and rear-
mounted “Nightsun” searchlight to assist with the landing,
but they were both inoperative. The helicopter then landed
Subsequent examination revealed that the helicopter
sustained substantial damage to the belly structure, with
the skids having been spread about 2 feet beyond their
normal stance. The FLIR and searchlight both sustained crush
damage to their lower cowlings, and the tailskid appeared
to have struck the ground.
NTSB Identification: *CEN14LA174*
Date: March 30, 2014
Location: Moody, TX
Aircraft: BELL 47G 3B
Injuries: 2 Minor.
A Bell Helicopter 47G B3 rolled over during an autorotation
near Moody, Texas. The pilot and passenger received minor
injuries. The tail boom was separated from the helicopter
during the forced landing.Visual meteorological conditions
prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight
plan. The local flight originated about 1200.
The pilot reported the purpose of the flight was to spot
wildlife. He stated that during the flight he noticed a
“rough spot” in the throttle control. Shortly thereafter, he
lost all throttle control. The pilot initiated an autorotation.
The helicopter yawed to the left and rolled over during the
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