NTSB Identification: IAD01FA066.
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Accident occurred Thursday, June 07, 2001 in Perry, WV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/13/2003
Aircraft: Hughes 369A, registration: N58963
Injuries: 1 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 departed on a VFR cross-country flight in the helicopter without obtaining a weather briefing, or filing a flight plan. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed along the route of flight. Minutes before the accident, a retired U.S. Army aviator observed the helicopter flying along an obscured ridgeline, with the helicopter's main rotors disappearing into the clouds. The helicopter came to rest on a mountain approximately 3,200 feet high, a few miles from where the witness observed the helicopter. The wreckage was on the northwest side of the mountain, on a slope of about 40 degrees, at an elevation of 2,610 feet. The initial impact point was two trees side-by-side, about 10 feet apart, and perpendicular to the wreckage path. Facing the direction of travel, the tree on the right showed a deep slash mark on the approach side of the tree, and a sharp, angular cut tree trunk remained from the tree on the left. A corresponding, angular cut tree trunk with the top branches attached rested below the tree on the left. Examination of the wreckage revealed no mechanical anomalies. The helicopter was not configured for instrument flight, and according to the Owner's Manual, instrument flight was prohibited.

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

The pilot's continued VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions, and his failure to maintain terrain clearance. A contributing factor was mountainous terrain.

Full narrative available

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