NTSB Identification: ANC97GA126.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 20, 1997 in DILLINGHAM, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/28/2000
Aircraft: Bell BH-206B, registration: N18FH
Injuries: 1 Fatal,3 Serious.

: 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 helicopter departed a mountaintop site, in near zero visibility, with clouds, rain and strong winds. The pilot was attempting to hover down the mountain until clear of the clouds. The passenger seated behind the pilot had his arm out the rear window, holding the pilot's door open as the pilot leaned out to see the ground. The front seat passenger disconnected his shoulder harness prior to departure, so he could wipe fog off the inside of the pilot's windshield. The pilot disconnected his shoulder harness so he could lean out to maintain visual sight of the ground. The helicopter did not have a functioning hot air windshield defogger system. It had a cabin heater, which was not used. The helicopter was airborne about five minutes prior to impacting a ridge. None of the survivors saw the surrounding terrain until just before impact. The pilot was fatally injured, the front seat passenger was seriously injured, and the two rear seat passengers sustained minor injuries. The takeoff site was equipped with a survival shelter, heater, stove and sleeping bags. The passengers would not be reimbursed by their employer for lodging if they stayed in the shelter. They would be reimbursed for hotel accommodations if they flew to town.

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

The pilot's intentional VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Factors associated with the accident are the pilot's failure to activate the cabin heating system, the lack of an operable windshield defogger, the pilot's overconfidence in his ability, pressure induced by the passengers to initiate the flight, and pressure induced by the FAA upon their employees.

Full narrative available

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