NTSB Identification: CHI96FA088.
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Accident occurred Saturday, February 10, 1996 in PELLSTON, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/16/1996
Aircraft: BELL 206B-III, registration: N2157J
Injuries: 1 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 aircraft accident report.

The helicopter was declared missing on the day it had departed from its home airport. Three days later, it was found on top of a heavily wooded, snow covered, hill. According to the local coroner, the pilot had survived the accident but not the cold weather. There was no cold weather survival gear found at the accident scene. The helicopter was not equipped with an ELT. On the day it was declared missing, the helicopter was observed at an airport about 10 miles south-southwest of the accident site. The witness said it took off departing north at an altitude between 300 and 400 feet above ground level. The same witness said the visibility was 1 to 2 miles. Witnesses about 1 mile west of the accident site heard a metallic crashing sound. They said the tree tops east of them were obscured. An airport, about 1 miles east of the accident site, reported 3 miles visibility with fog about the time the witnesses reported hearing the collision sounds. The airframe, control system, and power plant examination revealed no anomalies that would have prevented flight.

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

flight into known adverse weather conditions (fog) at too low an altitude by the pilot. Factors associated with this accident were inadequate preflight planning and an improper inflight decision by the pilot when he chose to continue flight into the fog conditions.

Full narrative available

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