A North Carolina State Highway Patrol helicopter crashed on June 19 because the helicopter was still clamped to one side of the transporter used to take it to the heliport, according to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
The Bell OH-58A, N303HP, operated by highway patrol, crashed upon takeoff just after 2 p.m. and suffered substantial damage, the report shows.
The pilot “moved the helicopter from the hangar to the helipad using an electric/hydraulic transporter attached to the helicopter skids,” the report says. While preparing the helicopter for flight, the pilot unhooked the transporter clamp from the left skid. It was at that point the passenger asked the pilot about removing the controls from the co-pilot’s side of the aircraft, according to the report.
The pilot told the NTSB that he wasn’t planning on removing the controls from the co-pilot’s side, but decided to do it after the passenger asked. After removing the controls, he continued preparing the helicopter for flight, but forgot to unhook the transporter from the right skid, according to the report.
Once the pilot took off, the helicopter immediately “began to roll uncontrollably to the right until the main rotor blades struck the ground.”
Trooper R. M. Collie and passenger Clint Stone made it about five feet into the air before crashing.
The helicopter came to rest on its left side and there was substantial damage to the fuselage as well as “separation of the tail boom and main rotor system with the transmission, from the fuselage,” the report says.
According to the report, the pilot told the NTSB that the purpose of the flight was to take photographs near Raleigh-Durham International Airport.