BLOOMSBURG — The loss of tail rotor effectiveness caused the crash of a sightseeing helicopter the Bloomsburg Fair last September, the National Transportation Safety Board has concluded.
Pilot Kenneth Cordrey of Delmar, Del., was critically injured when the Enstrom F-28F helicopter hit the ground and a number of vehicles as he was attempting to land about 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28.
According to the NTSB report, Cordrey told investigators he had completed a routine 3-minute flight around the fairgrounds and was approaching the paved helipad as he normally did.
He told investigators during final approach, the helicopter “just yawed to the right” and he did “everything I could to recover” but the action did not stop the spin.
Cordrey could not recall hearing a cockpit alarm, or say how high the helicopter was above the ground and what the power settings were when the loss of control occurred, the report states.
It was “just a standard approach” and “there was nothing unusual about it,” he told investigators.
Surveillance videos of the final 19 seconds showed the helicopter appeared to be 20 to 25 feet above the ground when its forward momentum stopped and a right spin began, the report states.
The helicopter subsequently descended and completed two-and-a-half rotations before smashing into vehicles and ground, coming to rest on its left side, the document states.
The weather was clear and the winds were calm, the report states.
The passengers, identified as Jennifer Zielewicz, 42, of Trout Run, and Maria Portalatin, 33, of Williamsport, were treated at a hospital and released.
An examination of the engine did not reveal any catastrophic internal failures and no anomalies were observed with the spark plugs or magnetos, the NTSB says.
The crash report refers to a 1995 Federal Aviation Administration advisory that stated the loss of tail rotor effectiveness was a critical low-speed aerodynamic flight characteristic that could result in a rapid yaw rate that could cause loss of aircraft control.
The NTSB reported Cordrey held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for a helicopter and had 8,357 hours in all aircraft and 300 hours in this make and model helicopter.
The three-seat helicopter with its doors removed was built in 2016 and was owned by J&J Shop Heliair of Ocean Pines, Md. It was powered by a 225-horsepower engine manufactured by Lycoming Engines in Williamsport.
The fair this year will be held Sept. 25 to Oct. 3 but helicopter rides will not be among the attractions, a spokesperson said.