2018 Sapphire Aviation Bell UH-1H Iroquois crash

2018 Sapphire Aviation Bell UH-1H Iroquois crash
A red and white helicopter parked and tied down at an airport
The accident aircraft was a Bell UH-1H, similar to this one.
DateJanuary 17, 2018 (2018-01-17)
SummaryUnder investigation
SiteRaton, New Mexico, United States
Aircraft typeBell UH-1H Iroquois
OperatorSapphire Aviation
Flight originRaton Municipal Airport
DestinationFolsom, New Mexico

On January 17, 2018, a Bell UH-1H Iroquois helicopter of Sapphire Aviation crashed near Raton, New Mexico, United States. Five of the six people on board were killed. The sole survivor was in serious condition.


The aircraft involved was a Bell UH-1H Iroquois, registration N658H,[1] msn 9856.[2]

The aircraft served with the United States Army (as serial number "67-17658") and saw action during the Vietnam War, it crashed on 31 May 1969 at Firebase Eagles Nest.[3] It was returned to the United States and repaired and used by the Ohio Army National Guard before being retired to the Firelands Military Museum in Ohio.[3]


The helicopter crashed and caught fire east of Raton, New Mexico. Both pilots and three of the four passengers on board were killed, including Zimbabwean politician Roy Bennett and British world record holder Charles Burnett III. Burnett had set the record for a steam-powered car in 2009. The sole survivor, who was the co-pilot's daughter and a business partner of Charles Burnett, was seriously injured but was able to raise the alarm by cellphone. Although she was unable to give the location of the crash, it was located by New Mexico State Police on a ranch 15 miles (24 km) east of Raton. [4][5] The aircraft was flying from Raton Municipal Airport to a site in Folsom, New Mexico. It crashed at about 18:00 local time.[6] The Albuquerque Journal reported that the pilot had said that there had been mechanical problems with the helicopter the day before the accident. It was stated that these had been fixed before the fatal flight.[7]


The US National Transportation Safety Board opened an investigation into the accident.[8]


  1. ^ "FAA Accident and Incident Notification". Federal Aviation Authority. Retrieved January 19, 2018.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "FAA REGISTRY N-Number Inquiry Results". Federal Aviation Authority. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "1967 USAF Serial Numbers". 1 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Charles Burnett III, British-born speed king, dies in helicopter crash". BBC News Online. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  5. ^ "3 Coloradans, 2 Texans Killed In Helicopter Crash". CBS. January 18, 2018. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  6. ^ "Zimbabwe opposition leader among 5 killed in Raton helicopter crash". KOAT. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  7. ^ "Weekend getaway to NM turns tragic". Albuquerque Journal. Journal Publishing Company. January 18, 2018. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  8. ^ "Steam car record holder among five killed in helicopter crash". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved January 19, 2018.