June 4, 2012, Indiantown, Fla. Bell 427


At about 955 Eastern time, the helicopter experienced an in-flight bird strike, main rotor vibration and a hard landing. The private-rated pilot, commercial-rated copilot, and three passengers received minor injuries. The helicopter sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

Approximately 25 minutes into the flight, while at an altitude of 800 feet msl, the pilot maneuvered the helicopter to avoid colliding with several large birds. The pilot felt something impact the upper right side of the helicopter near the main rotor mast area. Immediately following the impact, the helicopter started shaking violently, and became difficult to control. The pilot elected to land in an open field. Descending through 300 feet msl, the shaking became more pronounced and the helicopter became uncontrollable. About 50 feet msl, the aircraft went into a spin and impacted the ground hard and rolled over on its left side. All onboard were able to exit the helicopter on their own.

Subsequent examination revealed bird remains on the rotor head and on two of the four pitch-change rods, which had separated from one of their attach points.


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