I don't think that it needs too much imagination to answer the 'how' part of your question. There have been dozens of discussions on this forum (I don't want to start another) arguing the pros and cons of the pilot leaving the cockpit with the blades at high rpm - either under power or immediately after shut down.
As to the 'why' part, I'm not going to break the first rule of PPRuNe by speculating. But again, it doesn't need too much imagination here either. This isn't the first time that someone has been hit by the m/r blades.
The official report will give its findings in due course.
(NECN: Dodge County, Wisconsin) - A freak accident in Wisconsin early Thursday leaves a helicopter pilot dead.
Authorities in Dodge County say the pilot of a helicopter was killed by the blade of his own aircraft.
Apparently the pilot was having difficulties with the chopper so he landed to investigate what might be the problem. While he was making his inspection he was hit in the head by the rear rotor of the aircraft.
Investigators are trying to determine what went wrong.
The name of the pilot has not been released pending notification of relatives.
Dodge County is about an hour northwest of Milwaukee.
Very sad I know of five such events in this country, and another who was lucky to live after being clobbered, albeit with several months of operations and rehab. He was unfortunately killed in another flying accident a few years later.
Wrestling with the Why and How is extremely difficult, especially for those that are very close.
Pre-occupation, with the mind on something else, would be the biggest enemy.
What is the old adage, 'the price of peace is eternal vigilance.'
anyone can have excellent situational awareness but it can all be thrown away in a second's distraction.
whether the close family ever understands the event or not, I think it a good idea for an experinced person to talk it through with them, quite a few times if necessary.
It's clear to see that the pilot is lying out near the edge of the rotor disk at about amidship on the pilot's side. The t/r on the 47 is on the right, so the helicopter would have had to jump up into the air and move laterally for things to be where they ended up.
I find it curious that it was reported that the pilot thought he had some problem and set the ship back down after takeoff. Unless this comes from a radio transmission, it is pure speculation. Looking at the place where he did set down, and looking at the broken spray boom, I'm a little skeptical that the landing was intentional.
Looks as though the machine has rolled slightly to the left after landing. The left hand spray boom is clearly in the dirt. Perhaps it sunk into soft ground or slipped into a hole or something. If this happened shortly after T/O the machine would probably be quite heavy. Anyway that would explain how suddenly the poor guy got clobbered where he did! Very sad.
Echoing topendtorque's sentiments, any fatality is always sad especially when we cannot make sense of it.
Anyone who has flown a Bell 47 will know how low the main rotor blades descend when they are spinning after engine shutdown but before they are slow enough for the droop stops (aka Rabbit's Ears) to kick in. Sloping ground, or even a gust of wind, will bring those high intertia blades right down to head level.
It does not only happen in the field. It also happens at flight schools, as topendtorque presumably knows.
TET is talking about a couple of sad events quite a few years ago now....
Heli-Muster Pilot 'Tevie B' was killed when he walked backwards into the rotor disk while dragging a roll of fencing wire near a place called Bark Hut ....
The other Heli-Muster pilot that survived, 'Dave N', climbed onto the back of a ute just after shutting down whilst loading a killer (butchered cow)... fortunately or unfortunately as it may be viewed, was that the rear of the ute was relatively close inboard under the disk so the knock was less severe... he still needed 40 plus screws and a SSteel plate... never was the same after that.
These are the only ones I can remember that involved 47's, I know of another that involved a 206 near Darwin... pax jumped from hovering machine, wrong place, wrong time. Pilot corrected and the passenger was killed.
All very sad occurances and hammers home the dangers of helicopter rotors... What can I say, these lessons have been learnt before
Very sad. We've debated the dangers of this before.
In the UK a pilot is required to remain at the controls while the rotors are turning. As a certain pilot found out when he was spotted by a CAA inspector leaving his seat whilst unloading pax (Cheltenham races, iirc).
rotorque, to add to your list, the flight school incident I mentioned is on the Queensland coast and took place only a few years ago. I heard that a lanky instructor had just got out of a 47 when another chopper landed whipping up a gust of wind, striking him down with the resulting blade sail.
We must not mention any names here - it wasn't really anybody's fault and I feel sorry for the school it happened - too many court writs up in the air and I don't want to drag PPRuNe into it.
I think one of the previous posts said "complacency kills".
When I was going through US Army UH-1 Crewchief School at Fort Rucker, Al., the Tech. Sgt. always kept saying to us students always approach the UH-1 from the front for obvious safety reasons and the pilot can see you.
Secondly, Always bow to the "Huey"
Lee Norberg Oakdale, NY
Last edited by Lee Norberg; 31st Jul 2008 at 20:43.