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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 33053
Last updated: 3 June 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic UH1 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Bell UH-1B-BF Iroquois
Owner/operator:Western Helicopters Inc.
Registration: N87701
MSN: 1162
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 6
Other fatalities:3
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Valencia, CA -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:Indian Dunes, Valencia, CA
Destination airport:Indian Dunes, Valencia, CA
Investigating agency: NTSB
A Bell UH-1B, N87701, registered to Rocky Mountain Helicopter and operated by Western Helicopters crashed during the filming of the movie 'Twilight Zone: The Movie' at Indian Dunes, Valencia, California.
The helicopter was being used in conjunction with the filming of a motion picture scene depicting a village typical of villages in Vietnam which was under attack from heavy ordnance. The helicopter was used as a camera platform as well as playing an active role in the movie sequence. The helicopter was hovered about 25 feet above the village and nearly directly above the location where special effects explosives were detonated to simulate the heavy ordnance. As the pilot turned his helicopter to the left to provide camera coverage, the helicopter's tail section was engulfed in a fireball created by the detonation of a special effects explosion. The tail rotor assembly separated and the helicopter descended out of control. The helicopter's main rotor blade struck and fatally injured three actors on the ground: Vic Morrow (53), My-Ca Dinh Le (7) and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (6). The six occupants on the helicopter sustained minor injuries, and the aircraft was damaged substantially.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the detonation of debris-laden high temperature special effects explosions too near to a low flying helicopter leading to foreign object damage to one rotor blade and delamination due to heat to the other rotor blade, the separation of the helicopter's tail rotor assembly, and the uncontrolled descent of the helicopter. The proximity of the helicopter to the special effects explosions was due to the failure to establish direct communications and coordination between the pilot, who was in command of the helicopter operation, and the film director, who was in charge of the filming operation.


Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report
Safety recommendations:

Safety recommendation A-84-16 issued 9 March 1984 by NTSB to FAA

Revision history:

27-Sep-2008 01:00 ASN archive Added
05-Nov-2011 15:49 Dr. John Smith Updated [Registration, Operator, Total occupants, Location, Phase, Nature, Source, Damage, Narrative]
24-Nov-2012 11:24 TB Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Location, Phase, Source, Narrative]
15-Jun-2016 19:56 Anon. Updated [Narrative]
08-Mar-2019 08:54 Yes Updated [Nature]
12-Dec-2019 20:23 Anon. Updated [Operator, Total occupants, Narrative]
12-Feb-2020 17:32 harro Updated [Time, Departure airport, Destination airport, Narrative, Accident report, ]

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