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ity 10 miles; few clouds at 4,500 feet; tem­ perature ­6 degrees C; dew point ­9 degrees C; and an altimeter setting of 29.96 inches of mercury. ◆


WPR12LA109A - PRELIMINARY INJURIES: 1 MINOR, 2 UNINJURED.


On February 19, 2012, about 1845 Pacific standard time, a Beech 35­A33 air­ plane, N433JC, and a Robinson R22 Beta helicopter, N7508Y, collided midair near Antioch, California. The certificated pri­ vate pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a local flight. The certificated commercial pilot was operating the helicopter under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 as a solo cross­country flight. The pilot of the helicopter sustained minor injuries, and the pilot and passenger of the airplane were uninjured. The helicopter was receiving flight following at the time of the accident, and departed Hayward Executive Airport, Hayward, California about 1815, with a planned destination of Sacramento Executive Airport, Sacramento, California. The airplane departed Byron Airport, Byron, California, about 1835. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and neither aircraft filed a flight plan.


The airplane pilot departed Byron with the intention of performing three night landings, and 30 minutes of flight over Antioch and the Sacramento Delta area. They climbed to 2,500 feet mean sea level (msl), on a west heading, and were both looking ahead at airplane lights about 15­20 miles away. The pilot pointed out the local power station, and a few seconds later, they felt a collision. Neither occupants observed another air­ craft prior to the collision, and the pilot was concerned that they may have struck a tower or bird. The airplane immediately began to shudder, and roll to the right. The pilot looked to the right wing and could see a hole, and a piece of


tubing protruding from the leading edge. He established airplane control, and began a 180­degree climbing left turn to 3,000 feet. He reported that his landing lights were on throughout the flight, and that although his transponder was switched on and set to 1200, he had not established radio contact with any air traffic control facility prior to the colli­ sion.


The pilot elected to return to Byron Airport, and while en route he estab­ lished radio contact with Northern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (NORCAL Approach). He main­ tained straight and level flight by utilizing continuous left aileron and rudder con­ trol inputs. During the final approach seg­ ment, the propeller speed began to decrease and he was unable to maintain altitude. As the airplane began to slow down, it began to pitch to the right despite his left control inputs. The air­ plane subsequently landed hard in a field short of the runway.


The helicopter pilot departed Hayward for the nonstop flight, with a route that was to follow highways to Concord and Antioch, and ultimately Sacramento. She contacted NORCAL approach for flight following once she had reached Dublin, and was issued a discreet transponder code. Once over Concord, the NORCAL Approach controller transferred her to Travis approach. She continued the flight, and a short time later received a traffic advisory from the Travis controller. She did not recall the specifics of the advisory, but remembers performing a scan to her 3 o’clock position. A short time later, she caught site of the silhouette of an air­ plane and a propeller at her 4 o’clock position. She performed an evasive maneuver to the left, and then felt the helicopter being struck. She did not know the extent of the damage, and as such, elected to immediately perform a precau­ tionary landing. She chose a lit highway as a landing spot; however, as she approached, she observed multiple auto­ mobiles and diverted to a spot adjacent to the highway. Upon landing, the heli­


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copter rolled onto its left side, sustaining substantial damage to the main cabin and the tail cone, which became separated midspan.


Postaccident examination of the air­ plane revealed that a forward portion of helicopter skid tube had become imbed­ ded about midspan in the leading edge of the right wing. Additionally, a 6­inch­long tip section had become separated from one of the airplane’s three propeller blades. ◆


WPR12LA111 - PRELIMINARY INJURIES: 2 UNINJURED.


On February 20, 2012, about 1030 mountain standard time, an Enstrom F­ 28C helicopter, N51727, was substantially damaged following a loss of engine power and impact with terrain at the Kalispell City Airport (S27), Kalispell, Montana. The flight instructor and stu­ dent pilot receiving instruction were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local instructional flight, which was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and a flight plan was not filed. The flight departed S27 about 0940. In a telephone interview with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator­in­charge (IIC), the flight instructor reported that they were per­ forming a fourth practice autorotation, which was to be a 180­degree simulated emergency maneuver flown by the stu­ dent with the instructor following along on the controls. He said that midway through the maneuver the engine quit. The instructor stated that he immediately took control of the helicopter and per­ formed an emergency landing, which the instructor characterized as firm. The instructor added that the helicopter sus­ tained substantial damage as a result of the main rotor blades impacting the tail rotor blades.


The helicopter was recovered to a secure storage facility for further exami­ nation. ◆


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