AP News, News, Wildland Firefighting

NTSB: Helicopter Seen Wobbling Before Fatal AZ Crash

NTSB

PHOENIX (AP) — A helicopter that crashed last month while delivering supplies to firefighters in a remote area of the Tonto National Forest was wobbling in mid-air before it went down near Payson, killing the pilot, according to investigators.

Procession Carries Pilot Killed in AZ Wildfire Crash

Helicopter Helping to Fight AZ Wildfire Crashes; Pilot Dies

The National Transportation Safety Board issued its preliminary report Tuesday on the July 7 crash as the agency tries to determine a probable cause.

Authorities said 37-year-old Bryan Boatman of Glendale was the only person aboard the Bell/Garlick UH-1H helicopter that went down about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Payson.

The helicopter was transporting supplies using a long line for a hotshot firefighting crew on the ground.

The pilot transported three supply loads with no problems, using an indirect route to avoid the fire area.

But on the fourth load, witnesses told the NTSB the helicopter began to fly erratically with the external payload starting to swing.

Witnesses said the helicopter appeared to stabilize for a few seconds before it wobbled and banked erratically and then descended rapidly, catching fire after the crash.

The NTSB report said the pilot didn’t report any trouble over the helicopter crew’s air-to-ground radio frequency or any other assigned frequencies for the wildfire.

Content copyright the Associated Press. © copyright 2020. All rights reserved.