NTSB Identification: SEA95LA223.
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Accident occurred Saturday, September 23, 1995 in CRATER LAKE, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/29/1996
Aircraft: Eurocopter AS350BA, registration: N6099Z
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

The pilot was employed by a helicopter manufacturer as a demonstration pilot. He and a passenger departed on a flight to attend a business aviation convention. Along the route, the pilot was observed by numerous witnesses to perform low altitude flight maneuvers over a lake in a national park. While the helicopter was flying less than 300 feet over the surface of the lake, witnesses observed that it gradually descended in a shallow glidepath at cruise speed until it impacted the surface. The engine was reported to be providing power at the time of impact. No indication of mechanical failure was noted. The helicopter was flying toward the sun and over glassy water conditions at the time of impact. Neither it nor the occupants were retrieved.

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

FAILURE OF THE PILOT TO MAINTAIN SUFFICIENT ALTITUDE/CLEARANCE ABOVE WATER, WHILE PERFORMING LOW ALTITUDE FLIGHT. FACTORS RELATING TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: THE GLASSY WATER CONDITION, AND LACK OF VISUAL CUES CONCERNING PERCEPTION OF ALTITUDE.

Full narrative available

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