NTSB Identification: LAX96LA267B
Accident occurred Monday, July 08, 1996 in HONOLULU, HI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/1998
Aircraft: Mooney M20J, registration: N5801N
Injuries: 7 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.

The Hughes helicopter, N64MK, and the Mooney airplane, N5801N, had departed on a formation flight to film a movie. Cameramen were in both aircraft, and an actress was in the Mooney's right front seat. By prior arrangements, the Mooney was the lead aircraft and was flown by its left seated airline transport pilot. A commercial certificated pilot was flying the Hughes, also from the left seat. The pilots were in radio contact with each other. Videotape taken from both aircraft was reviewed. While cruising past Diamond Head at 100 knots and 1,000 feet above sea level, the Hughes decreased its distance from the Mooney's right wing, joined up in a tight side-by-side formation, and at times was several feet higher, lower, in front of, and behind the Mooney. The Mooney pilot reported that she observed the Hughes. Seconds prior to the Hughes' main rotor blades impacting and severing the outer 3 feet of the Mooney's right wing, the Mooney pilot diverted her attention away from the Hughes. The Mooney pilot looked outside her left windshield and pointed out to the actress the presence of a shoreline hotel. After the collision, the Mooney landed without further mishap. The Hughes autorotated into the ocean and sank.

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

the failure of both pilots to maintain an adequate clearance from each other while in formation flight.

Full narrative available

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