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N17301 accident description

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Crash location 38.434722°N, 94.109167°W
Nearest city Ballard, MO
38.361409°N, 94.143278°W
5.4 miles away
Tail number N17301
Accident date 22 Jul 2001
Aircraft type World Helicopters 47D1
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On July 22, 2001, at 1108 central daylight time, a World Helicopters model 47D1 helicopter, N17301, piloted by a student pilot, was destroyed on impact with terrain about 5 miles north of Ballard, Missouri. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was not on a flight plan and was operating in visual meteorological conditions. The student pilot and his one passenger received fatal injuries. The aircraft departed Tonganoxie, Kansas about 0930 and was en route to Rolla, Missouri.

A witness said that he saw the helicopter above the tree line behind his house. He said that the helicopter, "...was in view for about 1 1/2 seconds when [the] motor pitch changed and [the] helicopter headed to its right dropping under [the] tree line. After losing sight of [the] helicopter [,] I heard a thud and no explosion and no longer could [hear] it any longer."


The pilot held a third class aviation medical certificate/student pilot certificate issued on March 14, 2000. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot had not been issued a pilot certificate other than the student pilot certificate. The pilot's logbook was reviewed. According to the logbook, the pilot had accumulated 22.5 hours total flight time as of the last entry dated March 18, 2000. No entries for solo flight were found in the logbook. No instructor endorsements for solo flight were found in the pilot's logbook, or on his student pilot certificate.


The helicopter was a World Helicopters model 47D1, serial number WH5016. A 178 horsepower Franklin model 6V4 engine powered the helicopter. According to the maintenance records, the helicopter had accumulated 1,942.2 hours total time in service as of the last entry dated March 18, 2000. The records state that the helicopter had accumulated 1,917.9 hours time in service at the time of the most recent annual inspection dated December 29, 1999. The records state that the engine had accumulated 1,685.0 hours total time in service and 685.0 hours since overhaul as of the date of the annual inspection.


A weather reporting station located about 32 miles and 56 degrees from the accident site recorded the weather at 1155 as: Winds 210 degrees at 7 knots; Wind direction variable from 160 to 230 degrees; Visibility 6 statute miles with haze; Sky condition clear; Temperature 36 degrees Celsius; Dewpoint 22 degrees Celsius; Altimeter setting 29.89 inches of mercury.


The helicopter came to rest in an open field. The vegetation in the field consisted of tall grass. The majority of the wreckage was confined to an area about 30 feet in diameter. Portions of main rotor blades were found about 35 feet from the main wreckage. There was no evidence of fire. The main fuselage exhibited crushing of the forward lower portion of the cabin enclosure. The tailboom was separated and was located about 10 feet away from the main fuselage.

The main rotor was attached to the mast and the mast was bent. The main rotor hub controls were intact. Both main rotor blades had the wood portions fragmented. The main rotor blade weights and retention straps were intact.

The tail rotor drive system was examined and the tail rotor hub and gearbox were intact. The tail rotor blades were attached and bent. The tail rotor drive shaft was separated in multiple locations. The separations were examined and no pre-impact anomalies were detected.

The engine was still suspended in location within the fuselage structure. The engine was examined and no anomalies were found that could be associated with a preexisting condition. The magnetos were removed and each magneto produced spark on each lead when rotated by hand.

The aircraft fuel system was examined. The fuel system consisted of a single 29-gallon fuel tank. The fuel tank was still attached to the aircraft and was not ruptured. The helicopter came to rest with the left side of the fuel tank lower than the right side. The upper left forward corner of the tank was lower in relation to the fuel filler cap and cap opening and the filler cap was in place. No fuel was observed to be leaking from the cap. The cap was removed and no fuel drained from the tank. A twig was used to probe the interior of the fuel tank. No fuel or fuel odor could be detected on the twig after removal from the fuel tank. The fuel cap was reinstalled and the aircraft righted. The remainder of the fuel system was intact. Fuel was drained from the fuel system. About 10 ounces of fuel was all that could be drained from the fuel system.

No anomalies were found with respect to the helicopter or its systems that could be associated with a pre-impact condition.


No autopsy was performed on the pilot. A "Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report", prepared by the FAA, was negative for the tests performed.


A Garmin handheld global positioning system (GPS) receiver recovered from the accident site was retained for examination. The track data from the unit was downloaded to a computer and plotted on a sectional aeronautical chart using a commercial GPS mapping software program. The first recorded position on the accident date was 39 degrees 8.5404 minutes north and 95 degrees 9.5766 minutes west at 1438:30 universal coordinated time (UTC). The last recorded position for the accident date was at 38 degrees 26.0904 minutes north and 94 degrees 6.5526 minutes west at 1608:46 UTC. The track data and the plotted track data are appended to this report.


Bell Helicopter Textron and the FAA were parties to the investigation. The helicopter was released to a representative of Bates County, Missouri, on July 23, 2001.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's improper preflight planning which resulted in fuel exhaustion, and the pilot's subsequent improper autorotation.

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