Bell 222UT, cn47546, ff: 1985 del US as N31976, unk
xfer Brazil as PT-HTO, unk w/o 14Feb93 near tatui, Brazil
Crash near Tatui, Brazil. I was on board. 20 years ago
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 afterwards.
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.