The helicopter pilot reported that he was maneuvering at a low altitude in an attempt to net an elk near Heber City, Utah.
When the helicopter was above the elk, his attention was immediately focused forward due to a small rise in terrain.
He pitched the helicopter’s nose up, and the helicopter started to shake and spin. Subsequently, it hit the ground, the right skid broke, and the helicopter came to rest on its right side.
Post-accident examination revealed that the tail rotor had hit the elk when the pilot pitched the helicopter’s nose up.
The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tailboom and rotor.
The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from an elk while maneuvering at a low altitude.
NTSB Identification: GAA18CA127
This February 2018 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.