N3176S was registered to Bell Helicopters and, following modification, was used in filming seasons 1 to 3 of the TV Show Airwolf during the early 1980s, with the resulting flying shots being reused in the Canadian produced season 4. During filming of the series, the helicopter was owned by Jetcopters, Inc. of Van Nuys, California [N 1]
After the show was canceled, the modifications were removed from the actual helicopter. [N 2] It was repainted and, in June 1987, sold to the German helicopter charter company, Hubschrauber-Sonder-Dienst (aka HSD Luftrettung and Blue Helicopter Alliance), and given the registration D-HHSD.
On the afternoon of Saturday, June 6th, 1992, D-HHSD was flying a little girl suffering from heavy burns on a mercy mission from Berlin to the Cologne University Burns Unit in Köln. After safely delivering the girl, the helicopter and its crew of three was returning to Berlin when they encountered unexpected weather. With the visibility reduced to nearly 100 feet due to fog amidst a brewing thunderstorm, the copter's 42 year old pilot must have struggled to navigate the wooded German mountainsides.
Unfortunately, at 2:30 in the afternoon, at a speed of nearly 100 miles an hour, the helicopter impacted near a rock quarry near Halbeswig. Its rotor blades clipped the tops of several tree, and then struck the mountainside. A nearby farmer heard, during his work, a big bang, and alerted emergency services. But, given the weather conditions, it took about an hour before the rescuers could find the wreck site.When they arrived, they found the helicopter was broken in half in the middle, the engine destroyed, and the 3 occupants, including a 38 year old doctor and his 31 year old assistant, had all been killed in the impact.
The forested area around the crash site was locked down for nearly 7 hours. The fire department had to close several roads near the site because there were not enough police. The Dortmund police and the Federal Air Transport Authority Braunschweig started their investigation on late afternoon, which continued into the following day. Afterwards, the crash site was released to the helicopter's owners, who salvaged the wreck. However, due to the impassable terrain, some parts of the helicopter could only be snug out by air. Three days after the crash, the Federal Air Transport Authority concluded that human error was the cause of the crash.
- ↑ Credits at the end of the episodes state "Helicopters provided by Jetcopters, Inc."
- ↑ These are now owned by a private collector.