• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Youtube
Helicopter Flight Training Sponsors



NTSB Preliminary Report: Pikeville, NC



Pikeville, NC

Accident Number:


Date & Time:

06/18/2020, 1700 EDT




Robinson R66


1 Fatal

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 137: Agricultural

On June 18, 2020, at 1700 eastern daylight time, a Robinson R66 helicopter, N4QW, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Pikeville, North Carolina. The pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was being operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight.

The commercial pilot was the owner of the agricultural company and was spraying insecticide on a corn field when the accident occurred. According to several witnesses, this was the first time the pilot had sprayed the field. Prior to the flight, the pilot met with the landowner to discuss the scope of work and any potential hazards.

Witnesses reported that prior to the application of the insecticide, the pilot performed two flyovers of the corn field. The first flyover was accomplished before the loading of the insecticide. After landing and loading, the pilot took off then performed an additional flyover before he began spraying. The helicopter was operating 3 to 5 ft above the 6-ft-tall corn during the spraying operation and was on the second pass when the accident occurred. As the helicopter flew over the field on a northerly heading, an eyewitness heard a "popping" and saw the helicopter out of control before impacting terrain and coming to rest in the northeast corner of the field adjacent to trees.

The helicopter impacted with a non-energized wire, also known as a "dove wire" that was mounted on a 40 ft pole (see figure 1). The wire stretched across the width (250 ft) of the corn field to the trees bordering the east side of field, perpendicular to the flight path. In addition, there was a hunting stand attached to the pole about 10 ft above the ground.

Figure 1 - Accident location overview showing corn field, pole/wire, and the location of the wreckage.


The wreckage path was oriented on a heading of about 030° magnetic, and the distance from wire impact to the final wreckage location was about 275 ft. The tail rotor assembly separated about 2 ft aft of the rotating beacon light and was found in a nearby irrigation ditch. All major components of the helicopter were present at the accident site. Both main rotor blades remained attached to the hub. About 75 ft of 5/16 inch diameter braided metal wire was wrapped around the blade pitch change horns, swashplate, pitch links, rotor hub, and both rotor blades (figure 2). In addition, there were tears and scuff mark damage to the blades that was consistent with contact with the wire. Cyclic and collective control continuity was confirmed. Tail rotor control continuity could not be confirmed due to impact damage. The fuselage was crushed on the pilot's (right) side. The engine compartment and turbine engine remained intact. The wreckage was retained for further examination.

Figure 2 - Wire wrapped around the helicopter's rotor head and blades.



Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:





R66 No Series

Aircraft Category:


Amateur Built:






Operating Certificate(s) Held:

Agricultural Aircraft (137)


Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual Conditions

Condition of Light:


Observation Facility, Elevation:

GWW, 133 ft msl

Observation Time:

1655 EDT

Distance from Accident Site:

12 Nautical Miles

Temperature/Dew Point:

27°C / 17°C

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Scattered / 4800 ft agl

Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:

4 knots / , 150°

Lowest Ceiling:



10 Miles

Altimeter Setting:

30.07 inches Hg

Type of Flight Plan Filed:


Departure Point:

Pikeville, NC


Pikeville, NC


Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Fatal

Aircraft Damage:


Passenger Injuries:


Aircraft Fire:


Ground Injuries:


Aircraft Explosion:


Total Injuries:

1 Fatal

Latitude, Longitude:

35.444722, -77.925000


Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Lawrence A Mccarter

Additional Participating Persons:

Corey Paczkowski; FAA FSDO; Charlotte, NC

Tony Kembro; FAA FSDO; Charlotte, NC


The NTSB did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Created 1 years 153 days ago
by Admin

Categories Press Releases