NTSB Identification: LAX04LA106.
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Accident occurred Friday, January 23, 2004 in Compton, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/07/2005
Aircraft: Cox Thorpe T-18, registration: N64EC
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.

After encountering downwash induced wake vortices from a helicopter, the airplane rolled over and impacted terrain while on short final approach. The pilot of the airplane was performing practice touch-and-go takeoffs and landings at the airport and made a radio transmission stating his intentions. A police helicopter pilot was on a 2-mile straight in approach for the same runway, and made a radio transmission stating his intentions. While on final approach for the runway, with the airplane pilot beginning a flare about 8 feet above ground level, the police helicopter's pilot was attempting a practice autorotation and descended in front of the airplane. At the last moment, the airplane's pilot saw the helicopter and made an abrupt turn to the right in an attempt to execute a go-around. The airplane rolled over inverted and impacted terrain. The helicopter pilot stated he never saw the airplane or heard the pilot's radio transmissions. Federal Aviation Regulations state that "when two or more aircraft are approaching an airport for the purpose of landing, the aircraft at the lower altitude has the right of way, but it shall not take advantage of this rule to cut in front of another which is on final approach to land, or to overtake that aircraft." (14 CFR 91.113)

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

both pilots' failure to see and avoid one another that resulted in the airplane's encounter with downwash induced wake vortices from the helicopter, and the airplane pilot's subsequent loss of control.

Full narrative available

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