On August 5, 2004, at 1200 central daylight time, a Robinson R44, N7036J, piloted by a commercial
pilot, was substantially damaged when the main rotor contacted an open hangar door during takeoff
and the helicopter subsequently impacted the ground at Spirit of St. Louis Airport (SUS),
Chesterfield, Missouri. The flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a
flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot and 2 passengers reported no
injuries. A third passenger reported minor injuries. The local flight was originating at the time
of the accident.
In his written statement, the pilot reported that the flight was to be a local sightseeing flight
for the 3 passengers. He added that the left side flight controls had been removed. The pilot
stated that the helicopter was parked on the ramp approximately 35 feet from the hangar. He
reported that the bi-fold hangar door was open and extended about 10 feet out over the ramp.
The pilot stated that after completing the normal start-up and pre-flight procedures, he
established that the area was clear and picked up into a 6 - 8 foot hover. He reported that he
began to move away from the hangar. He stated that as he did so the passenger in the left front
seat turned to his right and "accidentally and inadvertently hit or bumped the counterweight
portion of the cyclic as he turned."
The pilot stated that the helicopter drifted toward the open hangar door and before he could
correct the drift the main rotor clipped the bottom edge of the door. He recalled: "I quickly
maneuvered away from the hangar building and began to level the aircraft." The helicopter
descended to the ramp. The subsequent hard landing caused the skids to collapse and the main rotor
to sever the tail boom.
A ground witness to the accident submitted a video recording of the accident flight. Review of the
recording revealed that after the helicopter lifted-off, it paused in a hover for a few seconds and
then began to climb out, subsequently contacting the door. No drift toward the hangar building was
observed prior to rotor blade contact with the door.
Robinson R44 Helicopter
Chesterfield MO 63005 1200 CDT
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