NTSB Identification: LAX06LA015.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, October 19, 2005 in Avalon, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/29/2006
Aircraft: Hughes 369D, registration: N268ST
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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

The helicopter collided with power lines during flight and descended into terrain. The pilot was flying with another helicopter on a local personal flight to an island. A witness was in his boat and had just picked up his mooring at an anchorage and reported seeing two helicopters arriving from the west. The first helicopter flew over his boat about 75 feet above the water. The helicopter continued toward the land and began climbing because there were cliffs directly off of the beach. The helicopter continued in its climb and then impacted the power lines. The witness noted that the pilot would have had difficulty in seeing the power lines due to the position of the sun. Prior to the impact, there was no noticeable change in the sound of the helicopter and it appeared to be under power and full control of the pilot. Examination of the helicopter did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions of either the airframe or engine. The United States Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department showed that the sun transit was at 1238, and that sunset occurred at 1814 on the day of the accident. At the time of the accident, the sun's disk was 39 degrees above the horizon on a bearing of 215 degrees.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain an adequate visual lookout and obstacle clearance altitude, which resulted in a collision with power lines. Factors in the accident were the position of the sun relative to the helicopter's flight path, which lessoned the visual acuity of the pilot, and, the pilot's intentional low altitude flight.

Full narrative available

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