NTSB Identification: LAX97GA325.
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Accident occurred Friday, September 12, 1997 in SEQUIM, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/07/1999
Aircraft: Bell 205A-1, registration: N90HJ
Injuries: 3 Fatal,5 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 public-use helicopter was being operated in a joint effort search for a missing hiker outside of the park. The single pilot had landed at a remote landing zone in mountainous terrain to retrieve seven search and rescue personnel plus a dog. The pilot advised the SAR personnel to load quick, as he had no intentions of spending the night there. The pilot held up five fingers to ground personnel, who assumed that meant to wait 5 minutes for the obscuration to clear. However, in less than that time, the helicopter performed a vertical takeoff in the obscuration. According to the remaining SAR personnel, they lost sight of the helicopter about 50 feet agl. They continued to hear the helicopter to the time of a collision sound, followed by the sound of an avalanche. The remaining SAR personnel departed the landing zone for cover.

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

the pilot's intentional flight into known adverse weather conditions in mountainous terrain.

Full narrative available

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