Two R-22 Helicopters Collided While Attempting To Capture Wildlife
The NTSB has released a preliminary report from an accident involving two Robinson R-22 helicopters that were conducting wildlife management operations on private property in Hebbronville, TX. The pilot and a passenger on board one of the aircraft were fatally injured, while a passenger on the second helicopter sustained serious injuries. The pilot of the second helicopter was not injured, according to the report.
The helicopters departed from the private property about 0800. According to pilot of N74512, N7189D was operating as the spotter aircraft, responsible for sighting wildlife on the ground. N74512 was the “gunner” aircraft, responsible for capturing the wildlife. The pilot of N7189D had spotted wildlife and called it out to the pilot of N74512 over the radio. N74512 flew to the area where N7189D was flying, and the pilot of N74512 had called out he had wildlife in sight. The pilot of N74512 estimated he was flying about 100 ft above ground level (agl) and was approximately 100 ft behind N7189D, who was flying about 50 ft agl. N74512 turned to the right and continued to track the wildlife while descending upon it. N7189D turned to the left announcing on the radio he had spotted another animal. The pilot of N7189D then called over the radio that the animal was not viable, which was the last transmission before the pilot of N74512 felt an impact to his helicopter. He then observed the other helicopter descend and impact the ground.
Two witnesses on the ground stated after the pilot of N74512 announced he had the wildlife in sight, the helicopter turned to the right to follow the wildlife. The pilot of N7189D initially turned to the left, but then came back to the right for some reason and collided with N74512.
The main wreckage of N7189D came to rest in an unimproved field containing scrub brush and mesquite trees. The helicopter came to rest at a magnetic heading of 268º at an elevation of 580 ft. The helicopter impacted the ground in a flat, slight left-side low position. The main wreckage included the main rotor, tail rotor, fuselage, tail boom, and skids. N74512 performed a forced landing on an adjacent roadway. The helicopter was positioned on a magnetic heading of 267º at an elevation of 570 ft. The helicopter was intact, with exception of separated skids and displaced lower frames.
(Image from file. Not accident helicopter)