NTSB Identification: MIA06FA039.
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Accident occurred Sunday, January 01, 2006 in Grand Ridge, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/20/2007
Aircraft: Robinson R44, registration: N442DH
Injuries: 3 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 aircraft accident report.

The commercial pilot was ferrying a helicopter with two passengers/friends under Title 14, CFR Part 91 when the helicopter collided with trees and terrain in a wooded area at night, in instrument meteorological conditions. Witnesses related that the helicopter had landed near a hotel and truck stop, and the pilot and passengers had inquired about renting rooms. The pilot and passengers elected not to rent rooms, but walked to the truck stop and had a meal. After the meal, the helicopter was seen departing to the south. The helicopter did not arrive at its destination, and a search was initiated. A witness in a car on a nearby freeway, about 6 miles from the truck stop, reported to the local sheriff's office three days after the accident, that he had seen an explosion south of the freeway the night of the accident. Searchers located the helicopter in thick woods, in trees about 60 feet tall. The wreckage was extensively fragmented, consistent with a high speed impact with the trees. An on-site examination of the helicopter disclosed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical anomalies. Weather in the vicinity at the time of the accident was reported as 300 feet overcast, visibility 1.75 miles in mist, with thunderstorms nearby. The pilot did not have an instrument rating, and the helicopter was not equipped with instrumentation for flight into instrument meteorological conditions. Toxicological samples from the pilot disclosed extremely high levels of methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is a rarely prescribed drug, and its use is not approved for pilots. Methamphetamine is highly addictive, and is most widely used as an illegal recreational drug. The amount of methamphetamine in the pilot's system was approximately 50 times higher than expected from a single dose of a prescription drug. Use of methamphetamine can result in marked personality changes, psychosis, irrational and impulsive behavior, irritability, hyperactivity, and other symptoms.

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

The pilot's continued flight into known adverse weather, and his impairment, which resulted in an in-flight collision with trees and terrain during cruise flight.

Full narrative available

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