Killed Highway Patrol Helicopter Pilot Did Not Report His Medical ConditionBy Daniel Baxter
January 13, 2012 - NTSB's investigation completed on Missouri Highway Patrol helicopter, Bell 206B JetRanger, N96MP, that crashed near Clarkson Valley, Missouri killing private pilot, Sgt. Joe Schuengel, 47, concluded the helicopter ran out of fuel. Additional findings also indicate the pilot was on antidepressants and other medications that wer not reported on his medical.
Schuengel had accumulated 2,607 hours of total flight time, of which 820 hours were in the make and model helicopter. The flight departed from Arnold, Missouri, about 10:53 AM and was en route to Spirit of St. Louis Airport, St. Louis, Missouri.
October 15, 2010, two Missouri Highway Patrol Troopers
arrived at the Arnold Police Department, located in
Arnold, Missouri, about 8:45 Am, to fly with Schuengel
on a speed enforcement operation in the accident
troopers saw the helicopter approach from the east and land in a
field just south of the police department shortly before 9 AM.
Shortly afterwards the flight departed from the field and headed
towards interstate 55. The trooper who was seated in the front
seat stated that while the helicopter was en route he observed
that the fuel gauge was ?slightly above 25.?
trooper stated that Schuengel pointed to the altimeter and said
that the altitude was 1,500 feet. The trooper also stated that
the pilot said that he would not be able to ?stay up as long as
normal? because he would have to obtain fuel before his next
flight in Franklin County at 12 noon.
an hour of flying, Schuengel informed the troopers that he would
perform an additional speed enforcement, which was completed
about two minutes later. While returning to the Arnold Police
Department, the trooper in the front seat asked the pilot how
long it took to fly from the Arnold Police Department to St.
Louis; the pilot replied that it took about 10 minutes. When the
helicopter landed, the trooper in the front seat noticed that
the fuel gauge indicated ?half way between E and 25.? The pilot
shut down the helicopter, and the two troopers aboard exited.
The front seat trooper stated, that throughout the flight, the pilot made no statements about the helicopter not running ?properly.? The front seat trooper noticed ?no strange or unusual noises or actions? from the helicopter when it took off for SUS.
A witness near the
accident site stated that the helicopter was flying from right to left.
He heard the noise of the engine ?sputter? and then ?stop.? The rotor
had separated from the helicopter and they both descended. The
helicopter fuselage was ?gyrating wildly? and ?seemed out of control.?
Examination of the
fuel system revealed that about 3 quarts of liquid consistent with JET A
aviation fuel was present in the fuel tank bladder. The fuel shut off
valve was in the open position, and it would open and close when a
24-volt electrical source was applied. The low fuel switch was also
tested and was functional. The fuel float arm was intact and was moved
by hand without restriction.
The airframe fuel
filter (volume of the fuel filter container was about 20 ounces)
contained about 1 ounce of liquid consistent with JET A. The fuel line
leading to the inlet of the engine driven fuel pump contained 2 drops of
liquid consistent with JET A. The fuel lines were intact. The area
surrounding the main wreckage did not contain evidence consistent with
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