March 6, 2010, Cotulla, Texas, Robinson Helicopter R22 Beta


The helicopter was substantially damaged during impact with terrain while maneuvering at low altitude at about 1120 Central time. The commercial pilot and sole passenger were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Earlier, the pilot provided a safety briefing to the four hunters to be flown, mentioning each flight would be approximately 20 minutes in length and that he would be operating the helicopter “light” on fuel so it would be more maneuverable. Approximately 10 minutes after the sixth flight departed, the hunters heard what they described as a “whoosh whoosh whoosh,” resembling “a lawn mower bogging down in tall grass.” The helicopter wreckage was located a short time later. Both fuel tanks contained residual fuel and no blight was observed on the surrounding vegetation.

According to the hunters, while offloading and boarding the next hunter, the pilot would exit the running helicopter and add fuel from a tank located in the back of his truck. Examination of the fueling tank revealed there was no gauge or means to determine how much fuel was being pumped into the helicopter. However, it was possible for the pilot to see the helicopters cockpit fuel gauge while fueling.


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