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ROTORCRAFT ACCIDENT WATCH


Mayo Clinic Hospital, Jacksonville, Florida, the flight was contracted by the hospital to carry a doctor and a medical technician to Shands Hospital, Gainesville, Florida, for the purpose of procuring an organ for transplantation. The flight was then to return to the Mayo Clinic Hospital with the procured organ. The flight did not arrive at Shands Hospital and was reported over­ due by a Mayo Clinic Hospital representa­ tive, which activated local search and res­ cue operations. The wreckage was locat­ ed about 1000 in a remote wooded area by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Department Aviation Unit.


According to preliminary radar and communication data from the Federal Aviation Administration, the helicopter departed 6FL1 to the southwest, flying a track slightly south and east of a direct course to 63FL. The pilot contacted Jacksonville Approach at 0549 to inquire about the status of restricted airspace. At 0550, the controller replied the restricted


areas were inactive, and the pilot acknowledged the transmission. No fur­ ther communications were received from the helicopter. During the enroute portion of the flight, the helicopter's altitude var­ ied between 200 and 700 feet mean sea level (msl). The last radar target was recorded at 0553:23, about 1 mile north of the accident site, indicating an altitude of 300 feet msl.


A debris field was observed which origi­ nated with several trees that were sev­


ered by breaks at descending altitudes. The debris field was approximately 320 feet long, 70 feet wide, extending on a magnetic course of 172 degrees. The initial tree strike was at an estimated height of 30 feet above the ground, which severed an approximately 50­foot tall tree, at a ground elevation of 118 feet msl. The main wreckage was located about 175 feet along the debris path and approximately 80 percent of the wreckage was con­ sumed during a post crash fire. Sections of the skids, tailboom, main rotor blades, and engine were identified. The airframe and engine were retained for further examination.


The accident site was located about 12 miles northeast of Palatka Municipal Airport (28J), Palatka, Florida. The record­ ed weather at 28J, at 0554, was: wind 070 degrees at 5 knots; visibility 5 miles in mist; overcast ceiling at 400 feet; temper­ ature 17 degrees C; dew point 15 degrees C; altimeter 30.21 inches Hg. ◆


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