Another Robinson Helicopter Mishap

Maybe it’s because BoatPix flies these things, or that they look and sound so cheesy, but I really dislike Robinson Helicopters. Of course it could also be the fact that the only helicopter I’ve ever flown in was an R-22. It sounded like it had a lawnmower engine. The other problem I have is that they crash. All. The. Time.

This crash, however, is special. The headline: “Helicopter lifted off on its own with pilot clinging to side” says it all.

The helicopter that crashed near Robbie’s Marina Saturday afternoon reportedly lifted off on its own before crashing into the water, according to both the Federal Aviation Administration and an employee at Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada.

The pilot of the helicopter, registered to G S Helicopters Inc. of Islamorada, reportedly made an emergency landing on Indian Key Historic State Park around 2:30 p.m. Saturday because he was experiencing problems with the aircraft, said Kathleen Bergen, communications manager for FAA’s Southern Region.

The uninhabited, 10-acre island is located several hundred yards south of U.S. 1 near Mile Marker 78 and includes a large open lot in the center, often referred to as the old town square.

When the pilot got out to inspect the tail rotor, the helicopter reportedly started to lift off on its own, Bergen said.

An employee at Robbie’s Marina said the pilot told rescuers that he ran back toward the cockpit and tried to get inside before the helicopter lifted about 50 feet to 70 feet in the air. As he held on to the side, the aircraft’s erratic movements knocked him off and he fell, breaking his arm.

The helicopter crashed moments later in about four feet of water near the dock at Indian Key.

The pilot was found laying in shallow water near the edge of the coral surrounding the island.

A boat from Robbie’s Marina was dispatched to bring the elderly man, whose name and exact age were unavailable, back to shore, where he was met by emergency personnel and taken to the hospital.

The helicopter, an R22 model manufactured by Robinson Helicopter Co, will be removed from the water by the U.S. Coast Guard, Bergen said. The FAA is investigating.

To give you some idea of just how many crashes Robinson R-22s have had since their introduction in 1980, check out these 4 pages of crashes posted at the Aviation Safety Network website.

5 responses to “Another Robinson Helicopter Mishap

  1. Pingback: Another Robinson Bites The Dust « BessingerBlog

  2. Pingback: 2010 in review | BessingerBlog

  3. I am sure it had nothing to do with the fact that the “pilot” got out of the helicopter while it was still running!!! One thing everyone needs to keep in mind is 90% of all general aviation accidents are human error and have nothing to do with the aircraft itself. This guy didn’t have enough sense to shut the helicopter down and call for help. I don’t care for Robinson helicopters myself but I know enough about them to understand that the accident rate in Robinson helicopters has nothing to do with the quality or lack thereof. It has everything to do with the numbers Robinson helicopters sells more units than ALL other manufacturers combined and most R-22s are sold to flight schools. The majority of pilots flying these helicopters have fewer than 300 hours of experience this will increase the chances for accidents.

    • As the author of the above comment (whose e-mail handle indicates that he probably knows far more about helicopters than I) says, the quality of Robinson helicopters isn’t in question. Like the Cessna 152, they’re relatively inexpensive and used a lot by inexperienced pilots. The end result: lots of accidents. Next time I fly in a helicopter, I hope it’s a Bell 206 Jet Ranger, an MD-500, or a Sikorsky S-70. Given my profession, I just hope it’s not one of these, although I’d probably be happy to see it.

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