NTSB Identification: LAX95GA264.
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Accident occurred Friday, July 21, 1995 in HAUULA, HI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/27/1996
Aircraft: MCDONNELL DOUGLAS 369D, registration: N1090S
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

: NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

THE FIRE DEPARTMENT HELICOPTER PILOT WAS FLYING WITHOUT AN OBSERVER. HE WAS INSERTING TWO POLICE OFFICERS WHO WERE IN A RESCUE NET 50 FEET BELOW THE HELICOPTER, INTO MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN TO SEARCH FOR A MISSING HIKER. DETERIORATING WEATHER AND CLOUD COVER WITH TURBULENCE WAS PRESENT. GROUND PERSONNEL WARNED THE PILOT THREE TIMES OF THE DETERIORATING CONDITIONS. A WITNESS STATED THAT THE HELICOPTER WAS PARTIALLY IN THE CLOUDS BUT THE NET WAS IN THE CLEAR. HIKERS IN A CANYON NEAR THE ACCIDENT SITE OBSERVED THE NET SWINGING LIKE A PENDULUM THROUGH AN ARC OF 45 TO 50 DEGREES. EXAMINATION OF THE WRECKAGE REVEALED THAT THE LINE WHICH SECURED THE NET TO THE HELICOPTER BECAME ENTANGLED WITH THE MAIN ROTOR AND WAS FOUND WRAPPED AROUND THE MAIN ROTOR MAST AND ALL THE MAIN ROTOR PITCH CHANGE LINKS WERE FACTURED. THE HELICOPTER PILOT'S FIRE DEPARTMENT RECORDS INDICATED HE HAD 511 HOURS OF HELICOPTER TIME WITH 2500 HOURS OF FIXED WING TIME. RECORDS WERE RECOVERED TO DOCUMENT ABOUT 261 HOURS OF ACTUAL HELICOPTER TIME. THE PILOT HAD RECEIVED ABOUT 50 HOURS OF DUAL INSTRUCTION FROM THE FIRE DEPARTMENT CHIEF PILOT IN THEIR TYPE OF OPERATIONS.

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

the pilot's poor judgement by intentionally flying into adverse weather conditions in mountainous terrain with an external load and no observer which resulted in loss of aircraft control. Factors were pressure from the conditions/events and a lack of total experience in the type of operation.

Full narrative available

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