Losing Lopes in Los Banos

Three things impress me about 40-year-old agricultural helo pilot Brandon Adeal of Turlock, California.

One – Adeal received only minor injuries in an early morning crash on 21 August as he sprayed a cantaloupe field near Los Banos.

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According to Adeal and the NTSB preliminary report, the main rotor of his Soloy turbine-powered Bell 47G-4 (N948DS) “struck a set of wooden power poles at the 20-foot-level.” Adeal says he never knew what happened. One minute he was spraying; the next he was lying upside in the crashed helo.

Two – That in the same paragraph were he’d written “aircraft destroyed” as part of the NTSB accident notification, he ended with “1/4 acre of cantaloupes destroyed”.

And Three, that he had gazoonkas to state what is getting harder and harder to admit in the risk averse society that we live in – that despite the fatigue of having flown 5-10hr days for the preceding two weeks without a day off, that he, the pilot-in-command was ultimately responsible.

In the section at the bottom of the report, where the pilot or operator is asked how to avoid such accidents in the future, Adeal admits:

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