On August 30, 1994 at 2130 Alaska daylight time, a skid equipped, Bell 206 helicopter, N382EH, registered to and operated by Era Helicopters Inc., of Anchorage, Alaska, crashed into the water at Reid Inlet near Gustavus, Alaska. The positioning flight, operating under 14 CFR Part 91, departed the area 10 to 15 minutes earlier for a maintenance test flight. No flight plan was filed and visual meteorological conditions prevailed. However, the accident occurred in the mountain shadows at sunset. The pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured and the helicopter was substantially damaged. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the pilot, the helicopter had been repaired and required a maintenance test flight. He also had to notify the "main base" that the helicopter was operational. To achieve radio contact he had to fly out toward the center of Glacier Bay.
Once he completed the radio call he returned to Reid Inlet and found that it was darker than he expected.
The pilot planned to execute an approach to the beach. During the first approach he could see the outline of the beach and lights from a nearby support vessel that he used as a reference. He stated that the descent appeared normal to approximately 100 feet above ground level (agl). At that point, he realized that his rate of descent and approach speed were too fast. He executed a go-around, made a left climbing turn and climbed to 300 feet agl. He prepared himself for another approach but from the opposite direction. The second approach appeared normal and the pilot stated that at the last moment he saw the ripples on the water, tried to pull up, but the helicopter impacted the water, nosed over, and floated upside down.
According to the NTSB Form 6120.1/2, the pilot indicated he had a total night flight time of 267 hours with .4 hours within the preceding 90 days.
This operation was conducted at sunset. The open areas of the inlet were dusk but the pilot was executing an approach into an area that was covered by the shadow from the mountain. The pilot stated that his eyes did not have time to adjust to the difference in lighting conditions.