Investigators say they found a goose embedded in an air medical helicopter’s flight control servo in a fatal crash near Hydro, Oklahoma, that resulted in three deaths.
A preliminary report from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) noted investigators also found the carcasses of several more geese in the debris field of the Bell 206L-3 helicopter, operated by Air Evac EMS.
The pilot, flight nurse and flight paramedic involved in the incident were fatally injured.
Investigators said the helicopter dropped off a patient at Mercy Health Center Heliport in Oklahoma City shortly before midnight on Jan. 20, 2024, and was returning to its home base in the city of Weatherford, about 63 miles away, investigators said.
After the company GPS monitoring program stopped tracking the helicopter at around 11:30 p.m. local time, a search party found the helicopter wreckage in an open pasture about 1.5 miles east of the town of Hydro, Oklahoma, investigators said.
All major components of the helicopter were located at the accident site. The main wreckage included the fuselage, engine and tail rotor. The transmission separated from the fuselage and was also located at the crash site, investigators said.
The white main rotor blade was fractured and found in an adjacent field, investigators said. The red main rotor blade was also fractured and found near the main rotor hub. The mast nut had separated and was located in the debris field.
A review of the U.S. Air Force Avian Hazard Advisory system found a “low” probability of bird activity in the vicinity of the accident, investigators said.
The helicopter was flying under a company visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan, and was flying in clear conditions, per the preliminary investigation report.