Applebee Aviation Aircraft Crashes – 2006 to 2015

Compilation of Applebee Aviation Aircraft Crashes – 2006 to 2015

May 19, 2006 – Banks, OR: Nonfatal: N369V – Hughes 369A – Owned by Applebee Aviation at time of crash

(Currently owned by Foxtrot Air Inc, Port Vila, Vanuatu)

NTSB Narrative: On May 19, 2006, about 1300 Pacific daylight time, a Hughes 369A helicopter, N369V, sustained substantial damage during a hard landing at Skyport Airport near Banks, Oregon. The commercial pilot,who was taking the practical test for issuance of a flight instructor certificate, and the designated examiner were not injured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Applebee Aviation, Inc., of Banks. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 flight. The flight departed from the Portland – Hillsboro Airport in Hillsboro, Oregon, about 1200. The pilot reported that he was asked by the examiner to perform a 180 degree autorotation with a power recovery. He entered the autorotation, executed the 180 degree turn, and initiated the flare at approximately 50 feet agl. He stated that he “failed to roll on enough throttle simultaneously with the flare as the rotor RPM started to decay.” He further stated that the examiner told him, “power, power, power,” which he interpreted as meaning pull up on the collective. The addition of collective pitch further decayed the rotor RPM. The helicopter made “a firm level landing,” and the main rotor contacted and severed the tail boom. The pilot explained that in his training, he had learned to associate the term “power” with “pull power on the collective” and the term “roll on” with “roll on the throttle.” When the examiner told him, “power, power, power,” he reacted by applying collective, but the examiner was wanting him to add power by rolling on the throttle. The pilot stated that the accident could have been prevented by maintaining rotor RPM during the power recovery and “proper understanding of commands between DPE [examiner] and PIC.” (

July 12, 2011 – Wenatchee, WA: Nonfatal: N3623Z – HUGHES 269C – deregistered

(prior to deregistration owned by US Helicopter LLC Spokane, WA)

News Description of Event: On July 12, 2011, about 0905 Pacific daylight time (PDT), a Hughes, 269C, N3623Z, impacted trees following a reported loss of engine power while flying low level near Wenatchee, Washington. Applebee Aviation, Inc., was operating the helicopter under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot and one passenger sustained minor injuries; the helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tail boom. The local flight departed Wenatchee, about 0845. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The pilot reported that while flying low over a cherry orchard to dry the cherries, the engine experienced a loss of power. The helicopter subsequently settled into the trees. The helicopter was recovered from the accident site for further examination.

NTSB Narrative: The pilot reported that, during a low altitude and slow airspeed flight to dry cherry trees, the engine lost power, and the helicopter subsequently settled into the trees. However, when the helicopter came to rest, the engine was still operating, and he had shut it down. During postaccident examination of the engine and airframe, no evidence of a mechanical malfunction or failure was found that would have precluded normal operation of the engine or flight controls. It is likely that the pilot did not maintain control of the helicopter while hovering out of ground effect at low altitude and experienced a settling with power event. (

November 14, 2011 – Woodburn, OR: Nonfatal: N16HA – Bell 206B JetRanger III – deregistered

(prior to deregistration owned by Applebee Aviation Banks, OR)

News Description of Event: A 39-year old Seattle helicopter pilot was injured Monday when he crashed his aircraft in a Christmas tree farm in Oregon. Marion County deputies said the 1981 Bell 206 helicopter crashed north of Woodburn Monday afternoon. The pilot was able to get himself out of the aircraft, and was airlifted to Oregon Health and Sciences University Hospital in Portland. There was no fire that resulted from the crash. Witnesses said the helicopter was transporting trees on the farm at the time. (KGW, KING 5 News)

NTSB Narrative: On November 14, 2011, about 1430 Pacific standard time a Bell 206B, N16HA, collided with terrain during an external load operation near Woodburn, Oregon. Applebee Aviation was operating the helicopter under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 133. The commercial pilot was seriously injured. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the forward fuselage and tail boom during the accident sequence. The local flight departed from a road in Oregon City, Oregon, about 2 hours prior to the accident. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The pilot reported that he was lifting bundles of Christmas trees from a field to a loading zone, utilizing a 25-foot-long steel line. Shortly after lifting a load, the bundle came apart and fell from the line. The pilot then lowered the helicopter so ground personable could reattach the bundle, but they had already moved to the next bundle of trees. The pilot then raised the helicopter, and as he did, the line became snagged on an obstacle on the ground. The pilot immediately reached for the line release switch, but the line did not detach. The helicopter pitched down, descended, and collided with terrain. The pilot could not definitively confirm that the release system failed, stating it was possible that he did not make positive contact with the release switch. He further stated that he did not have enough time to engage the manual backup release system. An inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) examined the helicopter at the accident site. He inspected both the electrically operated release mechanism, and the manual backup release system. No anomalies were found that would have precluded normal operation. (

Aviation Safety Network Narrative: A Bell 206B JetRanger III helicopter, N16HA, crashed into a Christmas-tree farm north of Woodburn, OR, on Monday at 14:42pm LT after the lifting line snagged on a ground obstacle. The helicopter was substantially damaged and the sole pilot onboard was hospitalized with serious injuries. (

July 23, 2014 – Wenatchee, WA: Fatal (1): N949FM – Bell 206A JetRanger – deregistered

(prior to deregistration owned by US Helicopter LLC, Spokane, WA)

News Description of Event: A helicopter crash that claimed the life of a pilot July 23 was the fourth crash in as many years for helicopters blowing rain water from cherries in Central Washington. Tobey Vigil, 40, Beaverton, Ore., “died quickly from blunt force trauma” when the helicopter he was piloting crashed either on take off or landing at a refueling site at Kyle Mathison Orchards on Stemilt Hill south of Wenatchee, said John Wisemore, Chelan County undersheriff. The crash occurred at 2 p.m. “We don’t know what happened. People heard the crash but no one saw it,” Wisemore said. Vigil didn’t have a lot of hours flying and was working for Applebee Aviation of Banks, Ore., Wisemore said. Another pilot was flying another helicopter for Applebee, also drying cherries in the area, he said. It had rained that day, but was not raining at the time of the crash, Wisemore said. The downdraft of helicopters blows water off cherries while they are still on trees. It minimizes water absorption by cherries that, combined with high temperatures, causes them to split and be ruined. The Bell 206A Jet Ranger flipped onto its right side and went down. There was a small fire but Vigil was not burned, Wisemore said. “It’s so sad,” said Kyle Mathison, orchard owner. He said Applebee was working for him and another grower in the area. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board went to the scene, Wisemore said. The NTSB could not be reached for comment. (Capital Press Online 7/29/2014)

NTSB Narrative: On July 23, 2014, about 1215 Pacific daylight time, a Bell 206A, N949FM, landed hard and rolled onto its right side near Wenatchee, Washington. Applebee Aviation was operating the helicopter under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter sustained substantial damage during the accident sequence. The local agricultural flight departed about 1115. Visual (VMC) meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

No witnesses visually observed the accident. An ear witness heard the helicopter, and then a thud followed by silence. This witness and her spouse responded to the site, and observed the helicopter on its side and smoking. Other personnel arrived; they applied several fire extinguishers to the smoking area at the back of the engine, and the smoking stopped. The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector examined the wreckage on site. The helicopter was on its right side. The back section of the skids was more damaged than the front. The back right cross member separated at the connection of the skid; the back left cross member partially separated at the connection with the skid. There was a ground scar several feet long that was parallel to the right skid. The left horizontal stabilizer was touching the ground, exhibited crush damage, and was bent down; there was a ground scar about 15 inches long leading to it. The right horizontal stabilizer was pointing up, and was not damaged.

The vertical stabilizers were in a horizontal position. The bottom of the vertical stabilizer and stinger were not damaged. The top of the vertical stabilizer was damaged, and bent about 50 degrees to the left. All servos were damaged with multiple jagged and angular separations. Recovery personnel obtained about 25 gallons of clean clear fluid from the fuel tank that smelled like jet fuel. (

Aviation Safety Network Narrative: The aircraft, a Bell 206A, impacted terrain and a post-impact fire ensued south of Wenatchee, Washington. The helicopter sustained substantial damage and the sole pilot onboard received fatal injuries. (

November 2, 2015 – Polk Co., OR : N22743 – Bell 206 B III owned by Applebee Aviation

News Description of Event: A helicopter crashed during a Christmas tree harvest in Polk County on Monday and the pilot was able to walk away. The crash happened off Highway 22 in Sheridan. Deputies said engine failure caused the pilot, Blane Hayes of Applebee Aviation, to lose control. The helicopter spun around as it went to the ground coming to rest. The rear tail section and the landing skids were damaged in the crash. When medics and fire personnel arrived, Hayes told medics he wasn’t hurt and refused any medical help. Investigators said Applebee Aviation workers took Hayes away before deputies arrived. The FAA is now investigating the crash. Applebee Aviation is cooperating with the investigation.

At about 2:24 p.m. on Nov. 2, an Applebee Aviation helicopter had “some sort of engine failure,” according to Polk County Sheriff’s Office. The pilot lost control of the aircraft, which then spun around as it descended to the ground. “The employees from Applebee Aviation who were at the scene then loaded into two vehicles and left prior to deputies from (Polk County Sheriff’s Office) arriving on scene,” Holsapple said.  It was not immediately clear why Applebee Aviation employees left the scene so quickly, Holsapple said. Applebee told The Oregonian/OregonLive that Hayes is his son and he drove him to the hospital after the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration have been notified of the crash, and both entities are investigating. Applebee Aviation is cooperating with the investigation, Holsapple said. Applebee Aviation, also known as AAI, is based out of Banks. In October, an Oregon court ordered the company to stop spraying aerial pesticides. The company is named in four aviation accident reports filed on the FAA’s website within the past 15 years. One report documents a fatal crash that occurred August 2014. That same year in April, an Applebee Aviation truck was involved in a head-on crash that killed one person and brought out a HazMat team to clean up helicopter fuel and drums of herbicide.”This one here was (a Rolls Royce) engine failure, and there was nothing you can do about that,” Applebee said of Monday’s crash. “The pilot did one hell of a job. He landed the aircraft. ”It is a higher risk business that is for sure,” Applebee said, noting that other companies may have higher accident rates. “That’s what we all signed up for. Will we continue to do it? That is yet to be determined.” (Nuran Alteir,

Aviation Safety Network Narrative: The helicopter engaged in harvesting Christmas trees, apparently had an engine failure and crashed. The pilot was uninjured. The aircraft impacted trees and terrain during an aerial agricultural operation in Polk County, Sheridan, Oregon. The helicopter sustained substantial damage and the sole pilot onboard was not injured. (