NTSB Identification: ERA10FA403
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 02, 2010 in Blairsville, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/06/2012
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44 II, registration: N34JS
Injuries: 2 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 non-instrument-rated private pilot departed on a multi-leg cross-country trip without obtaining a weather briefing or filing a flight plan. Prior to the flight, the pilot asked a friend, a commercial helicopter operator, to accompany him on the trip, as the pilot had never flown over mountainous terrain. The friend could not accompany him due to a prior commitment and tried to dissuade the pilot from going because he thought the pilot needed mountain flying experience, but the pilot insisted on making the flight. When the helicopter failed to arrive at its destination, an alert notice was issued. The helicopter was located by aerial search in mountainous terrain 4 days after the accident. Examination of satellite images revealed that the wreckage was located in a box canyon and that the wreckage path was oriented opposite the intended route of flight. An AIRMET advisory for instrument meteorological conditions and mountain obscuration were current for the route of flight and the crash site. Satellite images from over the accident site around the time of the accident depicted an area of low stratiform clouds that extended over the area. Examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of pre-impact mechanical malfunction, and the damage was consistent with controlled flight into terrain.
Post mortem examinations and testing revealed heart disease and the use of amphetamine and anti-depressant medications. At least two of the medications that the pilot was taking are not permitted by the Federal Aviation Administration for use while flying, but he did not report them. However, it could not be determined whether the pilot's heart disease or his use of unapproved medications posed a significant risk to flight safety.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The non-instrument-rated pilot's continued visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain. Full narrative available
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