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119 Crashes On Mountain Top


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Regis#: CGNSR Make/Model: A119 Description: A-119 Koala

Date: 11/06/2007 Time: 1845


Event Type: Accident Highest Injury: None Mid Air: N Missing: N

Damage: Substantial



City: CODY State: WY Country: US






INJURY DATA Total Fatal: 0

# Crew: 4 Fat: 0 Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk: 1

# Pass: 0 Fat: 0 Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk:

# Grnd: Fat: 0 Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk:





Activity: Unknown Phase: Landing Operation: OTHER



FAA FSDO: CASPER, WY (NM04) Entry date: 11/07/2007


Sheriff: Helicopter crashed as pilot attempted landing


Of The Gazette Staff


A helicopter that crashed Tuesday in the Washakie Wilderness area west of Cody, Wyo., was apparently trying to land on an 11,900-foot mountain plateau so the four people aboard the high-end machine could stretch their legs and take a potty break.


That's what pilot Adam Walsh, 33, of Newfoundland, Canada, told him, said Park County Sheriff Scott A. Steward on Wednesday.


No one aboard - Walsh; Jennifer Gulliver, 40; Chris Verbiski, 39; and a 6-month-old infant, all from Newfoundland - was seriously hurt. Walsh was transported by Air Idaho to West Park Hospital and was treated for back injuries and released.



No calls - Steward said he gave members of the party his telephone number and asked them to call on Wednesday. At 2 p.m. Wednesday, he hadn't heard from them and said he didn't know where they were. The helicopter was on its way from Helena to a fueling stop in Riverton, Wyo., Steward said. From there, the party had expected to travel to Colorado Springs, Colo. He did not know if that was their final destination.


The sheriff said that the helicopter remains on Ptarmigan Peak, on Forest Service land, in a wilderness area and will have to be removed. Aircraft are not allowed to land in wilderness areas without a permit except in emergencies.


Terry Root, District Ranger of the northern zone of the Shoshone National Forest, said federal law enforcement officials may investigate if there is some question about whether the pilot was making a nonemergency landing when the crash occurred.


"The Forest Service doesn't investigate crashes, but if it was an intentional landing that went bad, that is a law enforcement matter," he said.


Forest Service employees will be looking at the crash on a number of fronts, including whether there is a fuel spill involved, he said.


"That will happen very quickly," he said.



Combing the scene - Steward said the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration have been notified of the crash and will have to clear the helicopter for removal after their investigations are complete.


The sheriff said the helicopter, a 2001 Augusta, is registered to Coordinates Capital Corp., owned by Verbiski, in St. Johns, Newfoundland. The helicopter's insurance carrier has been notified and will likely be responsible for its salvage, he said.


Walsh told sheriff's deputies that the aircraft appeared to lose power as he attempted to land.


Winds on the peak were about 30 mph at the time of the crash. The sheriff said the rocky plateau high above the tree line had been cleared of snow by the wind.


Park County was alerted to the crash at 2:25 p.m. and Park County Search and Rescue was mobilized immediately, Steward said. The sheriff's office launched its plane with a pilot and a deputy to find what they believed at the time was a downed airplane. At 3:16 p.m., the sheriff's plane received an Emergency Locator Transmitter signal and advised Air Idaho. The helicopter was spotted at 3:30 p.m., and the sheriff's plane made a low pass to drop a radio to the crash victims.


Once radio contact was established, the sheriff's officers learned that all four aboard had survived the crash. The sheriff's plane stayed in the area to direct rescue aircraft to the site. Air Idaho arrived at the scene at 4:18 p.m., followed quickly by a helicopter from Worland with Park County Search and Rescue members and emergency medical technicians from West Park Hospital.


The sheriff said a U.S. Army Blackhawk medevac helicopter from Montana also landed at the site. It was sent after the U.S. military rescue center based in Langley, Va., had been notified by the pilot by satellite telephone.

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Air Idaho Rescue operates an Agusta A109K2. ( 2 x 738 Hp Arriel 1K1's )


12,000 is not high for an A119 Koala to land with 2 men, a Lady and a baby. It has a 1,002 Hp PT6 installed !


There's more to this story.


The owner, Verbiski, was one of the big players in the Voiseys Bay mineral find.

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Air Idaho Rescue operates an Agusta A109K2. ( 2 x 738 Hp Arriel 1K1's )


12,000 is not high for an A119 Koala to land with 2 men, a Lady and a baby. It has a 1,002 Hp PT6 installed !


There's more to this story.


The owner, Verbiski, was one of the big players in the Voiseys Bay mineral find.



Well the agusta website says the ige performance at 5622 lb(probably lighter than this though) to 11,400 ISA which equates to around -7'C. If they were getting out to have a break it was probably warmer than that, and at that altitude temperature is a huge factor. Yes it has 1000 hp but, it's a heavy bird too. This machine has an engine that puts out 1000 hp but transmissable power is 900 hp, only 100 hp in reserve so would think twice about how she performs up high. Straight 204b has 1100 hp and transmissable power of 900 hp and wouldn't do crap at that alitude when warm....


Don't know the pilot but am sure not the first or last to get caught being on the wrong side of performance curve. Or he might have a little low on oxygen too,,,


As you say may be more to the story, just my opinion.

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Assuming the accident occurred around one o’clock in the afternoon, the temperature in Cody Wyoming, elevation 5,100 feet, was 48 degrees F. The elevation of the accident site was 11,900 feet, a difference of almost 7,000 feet. Allowing for a lapse rate of 3.6 degrees F for every 1,000-foot gain in elevation, an estimate of the temperature atop Ptarmigan Peak is 23 degrees F.


The density altitude at 11,900 feet at 23 degrees F is about 12,200 feet. We do not know what the wind was. Experienced pilots are quite good at judging wind but performance charts make no allowance for this variable when the charts are computed. A wise pilot will not assume that wind will provide the extra performance he needs to complete his mission safely. He will use the charts assuming no wind and then if the breezes are favorable, he can then take advantage of them. It is wrong to reason thusly, “The charts say that we will exceed the allowable gross weight considering the elevation and temperature, but if there is a 10 knot wind up there, we will be OK.”


In my experience, in ground effect hovering when landing in mountainous terrain is far from certain. Rough ground, sloping ground and landing areas which are small enough in area that, although the skids may be on the ground, the downwash has no chance to deflect from it, results in the uncertain achievement of IGE. I always preferred my pilots to use the OGE charts to determine landing capabilities in mountainous terrain, just to be on the safe side.


The Augusta Westland website declares that the IGE limit for a 119 weighing 5,622 pounds is 11,400 feet and the OGE limit is 7,600 feet. The maximum internal gross weight for this helicopter is 6,283 pounds and the basic empty weight is 3,208 pounds. But when is the last time you saw a helicopter whose actual empty weight was even close the basic empty weight? The empty weight of a JetRanger is typically 10 or even 20% greater than the basic empty weight.


The A.W. website declares that the 119 will go 547 n.m. on 230 US gal of fuel. This equates to 0.42 gal/n.m. or about 3 lbs/n.m. The refueling stop in Riverton was about 100 n.m. from the accident site so he must have had at least 300 pounds of fuel on board and likely more like 450 pounds if he had a 20-minute reserve. Three adults and their baggage could easily weigh 750 pounds. If the empty weight was 3,500 pounds and there were 450 pounds of fuel and 750 pounds of people, the gross weight was about 4,700 pounds. This is 900 pounds less than the 5,622-pound IGE limit at 11,400 feet but far in excess of the OGE limits.


The news story describes the intended landing site as a ‘rocky plateau cleared of snow by the wind’, and that a 30 mph wind was blowing. It certainly sounds as though there was plenty of room and a 30 mph breeze is substantial. Presumably there was enough area for the rescue helicopter to land there also.


It is unlikely that an experienced pilot would allow his machine to face any other direction than directly into a 30 mph wind at elevations exceeding 11,000 feet.


The pilot reports that the helicopter appeared to lose power during the landing. Obviously, something went wrong. Two possibilities are that the helicopter was over loaded for the conditions, or that the helicopter got out of wind or a combination of the two but neither seems likely.

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