PICTURE: Photographer captures spectacular helitanker crash

Source: Flightglobal.com
This story is sourced from Flightglobal.com

These images were taken when a Sikorsky CH-54A firefighting helicopter unintentionally lifted off, striking the ground with its rotor blades.

The aircraft, operated by Heavy Lift Helicopters, was helping tackle a forest fire in Santa Barbara County, California by dropping long-term retardant.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Green Sheet safety report the aircraft had completed two missions before the accident.

The aircraft was on the ground at the Figueroa helibase at operating power preparing to return to the fire, when it began an uncommanded slow lifting roll to the right, striking the ground with the main rotor blades.

Both the pilot and co-pilot were treated for injuries, but were subsequently released from hospital.

The aircraft itself suffered damage to the flight controls, main rotor blades and hub, engines (due to sudden stoppage and dirt ingestion), and the fuselage was broken and partially detached just behind cockpit.

The cockpit sustained major damage, but retained enough space for the two crew to survive.

The initial investigation indicates the most likely cause of the accident was the mechanical failure of an aircraft component, but official confirmation awaits completion of Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigations.

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