NTSB Identification: MIA00FA029.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, November 24, 1999 in HELENA, AL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/18/2001
Aircraft: Hughes 369HS, registration: N395WM
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
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 aircraft accident report.
The pilot called the FAA, Anniston FSS about 15 minutes before departure and requested a weather briefing for a flight from Montgomery to Birmingham. The pilot was told that there was an airmet in effect for instrument flight rules conditions from Birmingham northward and that visual flight rules flight was not recommended. The flight departed Montgomery at about 1855. About 1935, witnesses heard the helicopter flying from south to north at a low altitude, making ' a steady, loud, whining noise.' About 2-3 seconds later they heard a 'thump' crash sound and then heard no more sound from the helicopter. They went outside of their house and observed the fire from the wreckage of N395WM. The witnesses stated that at the time of the accident the weather was dark and slightly foggy. Post-crash examination of the wreckage showed the helicopter had impacted in a near nose down vertical descent, while on a 185-degree heading. All components of the helicopter, which are necessary for flight, were located on or around the main wreckage. A post-crash fire had consumed the fuselage of the helicopter. Examination of the remaining portions of the helicopter structure, flight controls, main and tail rotor systems, and engine showed no evidence of pre-crash failure or malfunction. Damage to the main rotor system and engine drive shaft was consistent with the engine and rotor system operating at the time of the accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilots continued visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions resulting in his becoming spatially disoriented and loosing control of the helicopter, which resulted in an uncontrolled descent and impact with the ground. Full narrative available
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