National Transportation Safety Board
Aviation Accident Preliminary Report




Forks, WA

Accident Number:


Date & Time:

03/08/2019, 0705 PST






1 Fatal

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load


On March 8, 2019, about 0705 Pacific standard time, a Bell UH-1B helicopter, N64RA, collided with mountainous terrain near Forks, Washington. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, tail boom, and drivetrain. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Iron Eagle Helicopters under provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 133, as an external load operation. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the off airport local flight. The flight originated from a remote location and flew to the contracted logging site about 1/2 miles to the south-west.

According to the logging project manager, this was the first flight of the day for the pilot. The grapple logging operations from the helicopter uses a hydraulic log grapple affixed to a 180 ft Kevlar long-line.

According to one witness, who is a helicopter mechanic, he assisted the pilot in the pre-flight inspection of the helicopter. The mechanic remained in the area and observed a normal engine start, run up and take off. Afterwards the mechanic continued with his morning activities and heard three successive distress calls from the pilot over the company communication radio. The mechanic and three other employees began a search of nearby emergency landing areas. After finding the emergency landing areas empty, one employee hiked to the site where the helicopter was scheduled to perform the grapple logging operations and found the wreckage.

The wreckage was located in a heavily forested, mountainous area about ½ mile north east of the point of departure. The first identified point of impact was directly underneath the wreckage. The debris field was small, consisting of small portions of the main rotor scattered about 50 ft away from the main cabin.

The cabin came to rest inverted on a heading of about 100° magnetic. The tail boom and tail rotor had separated but remained alongside the fuselage. The main rotor and transmission were displaced aft over the engine.

The grapple and long-line remained attached to the cargo hook of the helicopter and extended uphill away from the wreckage.

There was no post-impact fire. The wreckage was relocated to a secure facility for further examination.



Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:






Aircraft Category:


Amateur Built:





On file

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

Rotorcraft External Load (133)


Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual Conditions

Condition of Light:


Observation Facility, Elevation:

KCLM, 291 ft msl

Observation Time:


Distance from Accident Site:

26 Nautical Miles

Temperature/Dew Point:


Lowest Cloud Condition:

Scattered / 5000 ft agl

Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:

3 knots / , Variable

Lowest Ceiling:



6 Miles

Altimeter Setting:


Type of Flight Plan Filed:


Departure Point:

Forks, WA


Forks, WA


Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Fatal

Aircraft Damage:


Passenger Injuries:


Aircraft Fire:


Ground Injuries:


Aircraft Explosion:


Total Injuries:

1 Fatal

Latitude, Longitude:



Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Fabian Salazar

Additional Participating Persons:

Kevin McKee; Seattle Flight Standards District Office; Des Moines, WA

Marlin J Kruse; Honeywell Aerospace; Phoenix, AZ


The NTSB traveled to the scene of this accident.