The pilot of a small helicopter that crashed last month in Wyoming County, PA, wasn’t certified to fly using only on-board instruments, according to The Associated Press reports here and here. The pilot and four passengers died as a result.
We first wrote about this crash on July 29, pointing out the dangers of small aircraft.
Now we can see this crash appears to go beyond the ordinary dangers of small aircraft to probable pilot error and lack of preparation. The pilot was among those who tragically died. The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the July 27 crash.
The helicopter’s flight originated in Endicott and was headed to Lehighton, PA, when it went down near Noxen, PA, investigators said.
According to news reports, it is suspected the pilot never received a weather briefing, which would have revealed the foggy conditions at their destination which would cause the pilot to rely on his instruments for flying, which he wasn’t certified to do..
According to the AP report, the helicopter pilot told air traffic controllers in Wilkes-Barre that he was using instruments rather than visual indicators and he asked to be directed to the nearest airport, the NTSB report said.
The controller sent directions to Sky Haven Airport in Tunkhannock, but after several changes in direction, the pilot reported difficulty in maintaining control of the aircraft and later confirmed having difficulty maintaining altitude, the report said. At about the same time, the helicopter descended from 2,600 feet to 2,300 feet and changed direction again, after which there were no further recorded communications from the pilot.
A spokeswoman for Robinson Helicopter Co.,which owns the aircraft, said they believe the helicopter, an R66 Turbine that can seat a pilot and four passengers, was caught in a thunderstorm. A county coroner investigating the crash told the AP that strong storms were passing through the area around the time of the crash.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all five people lost in this tragic accident.
Thanks for reading.