This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.
On August 7, 2012, about 1633 Alaska daylight time, a McDonnell Douglas MD 600N helicopter, N737TV, sustained substantial damage while landing on a remote helipad near Pogo Mine, 38 mile Northeast of Delta Junction, Alaska. The helicopter was being operated by Aurora Aviation Services, Inc., Delta Junction, as a 14 CFR Part 135 visual flight rules (VFR) on-demand charter flight when the accident occurred. The certificated airline transport pilot was fatally injured.
Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and company flight following was in effect. The flight departed from the Pogo Mine.
The accident helicopter was stationed at Pogo Mine to support gold mining operations. Remote helipads were constructed of logs, interlaced, and nailed together with long spikes to provide an improvised landing platform. The pilot was landing at a remote helipad on a hillside surrounded by tall trees, but shortly after touchdown the helicopter pitched up, and back while turning to the right. The helicopter struck trees at the edge of the helipad, and rolled down the hillside coming to rest approximately 33 yards from the helipad. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, tail boom, and main rotor drive system.
During an on-scene interview with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) on August 8, a witness reported that just before the accident he radioed the pilot to request a pickup at the remote helipad. He was kneeling beside the helipad, when the helicopter touched down. The pilot turned his head to give the signal to board, when suddenly the helicopter pitched up, and back striking trees at the edge of the helipad. The helicopter rolled down the hill, and came to rest on its left side. The engine was still running when the witness arrived on-scene.
During a separate on-scene interview with the NTSB IIC on August 8, another witness working in the vicinity heard the helicopter land at the helipad, followed shortly thereafter by a loud screeching noise and impact. After the accident, while running past the helipad en-route to the accident scene, he noticed a log on the rear left side of the helipad that was displaced upwards. He noted that the long spike that attaches the log to the foundation was pulled out, and the log was displaced aft.