NTSB Identification: IAD03LA012.
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Accident occurred Friday, November 08, 2002 in East Hampton, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/02/2004
Aircraft: Westland Helicopters Gazelle AH-MK1, registration: N911XW
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During a flight on a moonless night, the helicopter entered a descent while approaching a shoreline from the landward side. The helicopter crossed the shoreline at an altitude of about 200 feet, then continued outbound, over the water, until radar contact was lost about 24 seconds later. The pilot's logbook was not recovered; however, records indicated that he flew 115 hours of total flight time in another helicopter, including 3 hours of night time, in preparation for his private pilot certificate, which he obtained 4 months prior to the accident. A safety pilot also flew with the accident pilot in the accident helicopter for about 10 additional hours. The accident flight was the pilot's second solo flight in the helicopter, and there was no evidence of mechanical malfunction.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate altitude, which resulted in an in-flight collision with water. Factors included the pilot's decision to fly over water on a moonless night, his lack of experience in that environment, and the dark night lighting conditions.

Full narrative available

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