NTSB Identification: LAX95LA200.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, May 31, 1995 in LOST HILLS, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/06/1995
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS-355F1, registration: N5871D
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

ON A DARK MOONLESS NIGHT, THE FLIGHT WAS GOING TO A SPARSELY POPULATED AREA WITHOUT GROUND REFERENCE LIGHTS TO PICKUP A MEDICAL EVACUATION PATIENT. THE RESPONDING FIRE DEPARTMENT TRUCKS PICKED A LANDING SITE AND ILLUMINATED THE AREA WITH TWO FIRE TRUCKS PARKED ADJACENT TO THE INTENDED LANDING SPOT. THE PILOT SAID HE MADE A HIGH RECONNISANACE AND THEN STARTED HIS APPROACH FROM 300 FEET. HE SAID HE BECAME SPATIALLY DISORIENTED AND LOST VISUAL REFERENCE WITH THE GROUND WHILE LOOKING AT HIS INSTRUMENTS TO CORRECT A HIGH RATE OF DESCENT AND LOW AIRSPEED SITUATION. THE HELICOPTER'S NOSE PITCHED DOWN, BUT THE PILOT STABILIZED THE AIRCRAFT JUST BEFORE TOUCHING DOWN HARD. THE AIRCRAFT BOUNCED INTO THE AIR ABOUT 20-30 FEET, ROLLED TO THE LEFT IN AN UNCONTROLLED DESCENT, AND THEN COLLIDED WITH THE GROUND ON ITS LEFT SIDE. THE HELICOPTER SPUN AND ROLLED OVER AND CAME TO REST ON THE RIGHT SIDE. THE PILOT REPORTED NO MECHANICAL FAILURES OR MALFUNCTIONS.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the pilot's in-flight loss of control and failure to maintain a proper descent rate due to spatial disorientation and lack of visual cues during a dark, night approach to a unimproved landing zone, and his failure to initiate a go-around when he first lost visual reference with the ground. Factor's in the accident are the dark night lighting conditions and lack of suitable reference lights at the landing zone.

Full narrative available

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