On June 7, 1996, about 1615 hours Pacific daylight time, a Robinson R22 Beta, N40009, collided with the terrain while on approach to an off-airport landing site in Santa Clarita, California. The aircraft sustained substantial damage and the certificated private helicopter pilot and his passenger received minor injuries. The aircraft was being operated by Group III Aviation, Van Nuys, California, and had been rented by the pilot for a personal flight when the accident occurred. The flight originated in Van Nuys about 1500 on the afternoon of the accident. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that he was making a pinnacle approach to the leeward side of a ridge in Pico Canyon. He was about 100 feet from touchdown with his airspeed slowing to 30 knots when the aircraft was caught in a downdraft that caused him to undershoot the approach. He attempted to maneuver the aircraft, but was unable to prevent the aircraft from striking the side of the ridge. After impact the aircraft rolled down the ridge and came to rest on its side.

Before the approach, the pilot said he had performed a high reconnaissance orbit at 200 feet above the pinnacle and had monitored surface winds on Van Nuys ATIS frequency. He reported no mechanical problems.

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