NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


September 16, 2009

As part of the Safety Board's investigation into the crash of a helicopter near Weaverville, California, the NTSB will open the public accident docket on Wednesday, September 16, 2009.

On August 5, 2008, about 7:41 p.m. (PDT), a Sikorsky S-61N helicopter (N612AZ) impacted trees and terrain during the initial climb after takeoff from Helispot 44, located at an elevation of about 6,000 feet in mountainous terrain near Weaverville, California. The airline transport pilot, the safety crewmember, and seven firefighters were killed; the commercial copilot and three firefighters were seriously injured. Impact forces and a post-crash fire destroyed the helicopter.

The helicopter was being operated by the United States Forest Service (USFS) as a public flight to transport the firefighters from Helispot 44 to another location. The helicopter was registered to Carson Helicopters, Inc. (CHI) of Grants Pass, Oregon, and leased to Carson Helicopter Services, Inc. (CHSI) of Grants Pass. The USFS had contracted with CHI for the services of the helicopter. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and a company visual flight rules flight plan had been filed.

The information being released is factual in nature and does not provide any analysis. It will include investigative group factual reports, exhibits, interview transcripts, photographs, and other documents from the investigation. Additional material will be added to the docket as it becomes available. Analysis of the accident, along with conclusions and a determination of probable cause, will come at a later date when the final report on the investigation is completed.

This will be a document release only; no interviews will be conducted.

The docket will be made available at 12:00 p.m. (EDT) on the Safety Board's website.

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.