NTSB Identification: LAX98LA079.
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Accident occurred Saturday, January 24, 1998 in PACIFIC OCEAN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/15/2001
Aircraft: Hughes 369D, registration: N521ZZ
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 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 pilot and observer took off from the ship on an aerial observation flight to herd fish. The pilot climbed to about 400 feet, spotted fish, turned downwind, and descended into the prevailing 15-knot tailwind. Neither the descent nor the turn was arrested. The helicopter changed its heading 180 degrees, and the descent continued until the helicopter impacted the water. The helicopter sank and was not recovered. The operator reported that before the pilot died he stated that no engine problems had been experienced. The pilot indicated that he had erred in controlling the helicopter.

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

The pilot's failure to adequately compensate for the wind condition and failure to maintain a proper rate of descent which resulted in the inadvertent loss of tail rotor effectiveness during a downwind turn.

Full narrative available

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