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NTSB Final Report: Lucerne Valley, California

Location: Lucerne Valley, California
Accident Number: WPR21LA133
Date & Time: March 16, 2021, 07:45
Local Registration: N6133C
Aircraft: Bell 206
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

The pilot reported that he departed from a dry lakebed with the intention of making a local flight for the passenger to photograph the area. He noted that the wind was from the southwest  between 12-15 kts. After departure, the pilot was maneuvering the helicopter to the southeast about 300 ft above ground level (agl), where he was using the helicopter controls to compensate for a tailwind. The helicopter began to yaw to the right and the pilot attempted to regain control by applying full left pedal. Despite his attempts, the helicopter continued to rotate, and the yaw rate was increasing in speed. The helicopter descended and when it neared the ground, the pilot flared to cushion the touchdown for the rapid descent rate. The tail collided with the ground,  followed by the skids contacting the desert floor hard; the helicopter came to rest on its right side. The fuselage and tail boom were substantially damaged. The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation. 

Probable Cause and Findings
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control while maneuvering with a tailwind, resulting in the helicopter spinning and colliding with terrain. 

Aircraft Yaw control - Not attained/maintained
Personnel issues Aircraft control - Pilot
Aircraft Directional control - Not attained/maintained
Environmental issues Tailwind - Ability to respond/compensate

Factual Information

History of Flight
Maneuvering-low-alt flying Loss of control in flight (Defining event)

Pilot Information
Certificate: Private
Age: 51,Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present:
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: January 22, 2020
Occupational Pilot: No
ast Flight Review or Equivalent: December 30, 2020
Flight Time: 555 hours (Total, all aircraft), 35 hours (Total, this make and model), 511 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 30 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 8 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information
Aircraft Make: Bell
Registration: N6133C
Model/Series: 206 L3
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1991
Amateur Built:
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 51544
Landing Gear Type: None; Ski
Seats: 7
Date/Type of Last Inspection: August 11, 2020 Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 4450 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 26 Hrs
Engines: 1 Turbo shaft
Airframe Total Time: 3620 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Rolls Royce
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: 250-C30P
Registered Owner:
Rated Power: 700 Horsepower

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan
Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KL35,6749 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 14 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 07:55
Local Direction from Accident Site: 218°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear Visibility 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.89 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: -4°C / -9°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Lucern Valley, CA
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Lucerne Valley, CA
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 07:30 Local
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information
Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 34.442796,-116.68425

Administrative Information
Investigator In Charge (IIC): Keliher, Zoe
Additional Participating Persons: Robert W Michaelson; Federal Aviation Administration; Riverside, CA
Original Publish Date: September 20, 2021
Investigation Class: 4
Note: The NTSB did not travel to the scene of this accident.
Investigation Docket: https://data.ntsb.gov/Docket?ProjectID=102763