NTSB Identification: ANC02FA057.
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Accident occurred Friday, June 21, 2002 in Central, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/08/2003
Aircraft: Hughes OH-6A, registration: N345SD
Injuries: 1 Fatal,3 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 aircraft accident report.

The helicopter was flown to a mountain summit to deliver the bride and groom for a summer solstice wedding. The approach to the summit was made in weather conditions of 10 miles visibility, about 8,000 feet ceiling, and gusty winds. Soon after arrival, deteriorating weather was seen approaching from the northwest. The wedding was performed about 2319 during daylight hours. During the ceremony, it began to snow. The ceremony was concluded quickly due to the weather. A video tape provided by a witness showed the helicopter depart the summit in weather conditions of high winds, sky obscured by blowing snow, and visibility of less than 100 feet. The helicopter collided with terrain less than one-half mile from the departure point. A postaccident inspection of the helicopter disclosed no evidence of mechanical problems, and that the engine was running at the time of the accident.

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

The pilot's intentional flight into adverse weather conditions, and his failure to maintain altitude/clearance, which resulted in an in-flight collision with terrain. Factors contributing to the accident were the snow and whiteout weather conditions.

Full narrative available

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