Basically the 222 scraped on a tree during a low pass.
A bladetip of the tail rotor was ripped off as was the left landing
skid and several fairings and other minor stuff. Also the right stub
wing tank was pierced by branches. Due to the imbalance and the
vibration, the tail rotor assembly with gearbox broke away shortly
Since the 222 was at fairly high speed, the pilot managed to maintain
control even without the tail rotor. He maintained about 100 ft AGL
and turned right towards a more or less free field, asking us whether
we had the safety belts on and told to brace for impact. As he touched
down in a running landing, the 222 tilted to the left.
As the rotor blades struck the ground, they all broke up into several
pieces and the main reduction box also blew up spilling all the oil
right into the running twin turbine air intakes, this all making a
noise, a mixture of crrraaaack and swoooosh, I never will forget. One
turbine was chocked, but the other one continued to run after the
impact. Since the touch down was very smooth, without any undue
acceleration forces, no one was hurt. The exit was a bit hectic, as
you may guess.
I was sitting in the middle seat, in the second row, and somehow leapt
out of the left middle door, which was now the top middle door. I ran
away a few steps but than noticed that the two guys in the pilot and
copilot seats were struggling to open their door. I ran back and
started to kick the wind-shield, which cracked, but didn't break.
Luckily, I noted that my (middle) door was lying over the front
(pilot's) door, preventing them from opening it. I swung it back, and
the guys got out safely as well.
The two guys in the back had left right after the crash, one of them
even taking a picture from a considerable distance, showing still the
smoke mushroom from the oil ingested by the turbines. At that time our
friends started to arrive and were amazed and relieved to see
everybody walk away unhurt.
Some time afterwards, the thing burst into flames, probably due to
some short circuit and the fuel leaking out, since all fuel drain
valves on the belly were sheared off.
The other day we had a look at the remains and found that two of the
four tail boom attachment bolts were broken, as well as all bearings
on the power shaft to the tail rotor gearbox. Probably the tail boom
would have broken away as well, if the flight lasted a bit longer, and
the results would have been quite different.