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Hughes 500 Accident
On Tuesday, April 25, 2000 at 2:00:00 AM UTC-5, JStricker wrote:
I lurk here a lot, but post infrequently because I believe in the saying
better to remain silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and
remove all doubt. I know so little about the workings of the helicopter,
that I come here to learn not lecture.
Back in December, I was in an accident in a Hughes 269. The aircraft was
part of a corporate flight department including a Hughes 500 (369HS), King
Air 350, and Citation IIsp. My brother was piloting the 269 when it went
down and was chief pilot for the flight department.
Thanks to some patient explanation by Nick and talking to another pilot in
the flight department (high time rotary wing former military), I think both
he and I understand better what happened. So the following hit us pretty
The accident isn't on the NTSB site yet, so I'll just copy from the
newspaper article (leaving in the misquotes and errors):
Salina Journal, 4/25/00
Helicopter Crashes On Ranch South Of Salina
No one was hurt, but a helicopter was damaged Monday afternoon in a crash 12
miles west of Salina.
Helicopter owner Charlie walker said pilot Duane Gulker was flying about 50
feet above the ground looking for a buffalo bull from Walker's Rolling Hills
Ranch that had wandered onto Jack Vaier's CK Ranch near Brookville.
"They lost tail rudder effectiveness, then lost control of the aircraft."
Walker said. "It's caused by wind coming up through the canyons."
Gulker I snipped Duane's address and passenger Mark Johnson, Walker's
ranch foreman, were unhurt. The Federal Aviation Administration was
notified of the 5:30 PM crash.
"I guess I'll buy another one," Walker said of the destroyed helicopter.
This is the second crash of a Walker helicopter in the past few months. On
Dec. 13, Kirk Stricker and his brother, John Stricker, crashed in a field
just south of the intersection of Centennial and Parsons roads in southern
First off, Duane called Kirk right after it happened. He told him that both
he and Mark walked out to a phone and neither had more than scratches. The
aircraft is a total loss.
When he asked what happened, Duane said that he lost all tail rotor
effectiveness very quickly, but didn't believe it was a mechanical failure
and suspected the winds. They routinely used the helicopter(s) to herd the
buffalo as they aren't very safe to handle with ground based vehicles or
personnel. The buffalo are used to them and normally they just hover near
them, on the opposite side of where they want them to go and they eventually
get tired of getting beat around by the rotorwash and walk the other way.
The area in question has some fairly deep canyons (for KS) and with our
winds here they CAN really funnel some serious air through them. But
because of my lack of knowledge on the subject, I'm asking here.
What kind of winds could cause the TR to lose effectiveness that quickly?
There weren't real strong winds, for KS, maybe 12-15 knots. Duane was
experienced in flying several different types of military helicopters and
had done this particular operation many times in the past. Is the Hughes
500 prone to loss of TR effectiveness in certain conditions? I'm curious
how this could have happened.
FWIW, the flight department has been running there for 15+ years and has
never had an accident or incident. Now there are two in six months. The
owner has never scrimped on equipment, people, training, or anything else..
Needless to say, I'm at a bit of a loss here and am interested in hearing
you folk's opinions, if any.
"I didn't spend all these years getting to the top of the food chain just to
be a vegetarian"
John, the information you provided was correct at the time you published this, however it was later proved that there had been a malfunction of the tail rotor, the tail rotor attaching hub had snapped and the only thing holding one of the blades was the tension-torsion strap running thru the center, this is what caused the aircraft to spin 1st to the left and then to the right and back again as the tail rotor blade was merely flapping at will, the FAA was presented with the evidence of mechanical failure and no further action was taken.
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