NTSB Identification: SEA97LA035.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, December 10, 1996 in PENDLETON, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/1998
Aircraft: Bell 47G, registration: N4758R
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.

Two restricted-category helicopters, each flown by a commercial pilot, departed from a controlled airport during VFR conditions and began performing an agricultural spraying operation at a local ranch. Later that morning, the weather conditions worsened as patchy fog began to move into the area. Both pilots ceased the spraying operation due to the weather, and each landed at the ranch. One of the pilots (second pilot) secured his helicopter and boarded the other pilot's (first pilot) helicopter with the intention of flying back to the controlled airport. A dog was also on board the helicopter. During the return flight, the first pilot contacted the airport control tower and reported that he was 'on top...looking for a hole' in the fog. The helicopter impacted hilly terrain and was destroyed. An examination of the wreckage did not reveal any evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunctions. The helicopter was not equipped for instrument flight.

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

The pilot-in-command's attempt to conduct visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions, and his failure to maintain altitude/clearance with hilly terrain. A contributing factor in the accident was the presence of fog.

Full narrative available

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