The Helicopter Impacted Wires That Appeared Masked In The Top Of The Mesquite Tree Groove Canopy

Location: Blackwell, TX Accident Number: CEN22FA288
Date & Time: June 26, 2022, 08:30 Local Registration: N4124D
Aircraft: Robinson Helicopter Company R44 II Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural

On June 26, 2022, about 0830 central daylight time, a Robinson R44 helicopter was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Blackwell, Texas. The pilot sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight.

The purpose of the aerial application flight was to apply selective herbicide, targeting a large grove of mesquite trees. After loading the herbicides nearby the target spray area, the pilot took off and completed 2 or 3 passes over the mesquite grove. After about 3-4 minutes the loader (who was nearby), heard a metallic-type impact sound coming from the direction of where the helicopter was spaying. He subsequently heard an impact sound and an abrupt end to the engine and rotor blade noise coming from that direction. He responded as quickly as possible, located the downed helicopter, helped the pilot out of the wreckage, performed first aid, and attempted life saving measures while on the phone with emergency services.

Examination of the accident site showed that the helicopter impacted wires that appeared masked in the top of the mesquite tree groove canopy. Investigators found that the wires were barely visible from air. Initial examination of the helicopter wreckage, flight controls, and engine did not reveal any obvious mechanical anomalies. There were no radio or distress calls heard from the pilot.