Pilot lands helicopter without a tail rotor

In an amazing piece of flying, a pilot of a helicopter “on a venison recovery operation” (deer hunting?), landed the chopper after the tail rotor was completely destroyed by something that had fallen out of the open door of the helicopter.


Southern Lakes Helicopters operations manager Lloyd Matheson said after the “complete disintegration” of the tail rotor at an altitude of about 4500ft, Mr Hayes’ only option was to maintain forward momentum to steer the aircraft and keep it stable.

That meant him landing at a speed of 80 knots, risking his main rotors hitting the ground and possibly destroying the aircraft as it skidded some 45 metres along the ground.


Amazing stuff.? This comes only a day after another bad helicopter accident in New Zealand, where a plane and chopper crashed into each other.


  1. Dang that is impressive. Can you do this with helicopters normally? Or was he aided by the fact the R44 has a streamlined vertical cowling – does that act partially as a tail fin if you maintain forward momentum?

  2. Yeah I have to admit I was pretty stunned too. I’ve read a lot about chopper flying, and I thought an auto-rotation was your only option. That implies that you have to land with at least some amount of body-rotation if you have no tail rotor.

    I guess if you still have the engine, you have other options other than auto-rotation.

    This link is interesting: http://www.copters.com/pilot/trfail_cruise.html
    Note the last comment “(that doesn’t mean ignore the manufacturer, though)”. So yeah I suppose the R44 manufacturers may mention that the body shape allows for some stability at speed?

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