NTSB Identification: MIA02GA011.
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Accident occurred Monday, October 22, 2001 in Bartow, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/21/2003
Aircraft: Bell OH-58A, registration: N911DB
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 public aircraft accident report.

The helicopter crashed into a swampy area at night in foggy conditions about a mile from the departure airport. The pilot and observer were returning to the airport on an aerial surveillance flight when the pilot was asked to divert to provide assistance for a law enforcement official. Contact with the flight was lost thereafter. Reportedly the pilot always used his night vision goggles when flying at night. Two pairs of the goggles were recovered from the wreckage, but it was not determined if they were being used at the time of the accident. Transcripts of radio communication with the flight indicates the pilot reported fog conditions. A witness reported fog conditions at and adjacent to the airport. The weather observation for the airport was recorded, in part, as a quarter-mile visibility with a 400-foot cloud ceiling. Examination of the helicopter did not disclose evidence of mechanical malfunction.

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

The pilot's continued VFR flight into IMC, and his failure to maintain altitude, resulting in an in-flight collision with the ground. Factors in this accident were fog, and dark night.

Full narrative available

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