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4 killed in Maryland helicopter crash

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Horrible news- looks like they may have hit a power line at some point. Also, just saw an R44 made an emergency landing on the beach at Santa Monica, CA....

Edited by Goldy
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Can't tell you how much of a loss it is for us....Great guys to fly with, and a truly wonderful flight school. I could be here for days telling you the great things that flight school does for students and even more for the community. I pray for the family members and other co-workers - mainly for their peace. I have been flying at Advanced for several years now and still have faith in the staff and equipment...


Remember to fly safe guys/gals...minimize the risks....

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I hope it was not anyone from here, condolences to the families and friends.


I read on CNN that it was a charity flight...it's not [this one] posted by EDS Pilot? Wrong dates, but based out of Advanced Helicopter Concepts, and for at-risk youth. Ugh.

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No not that one but a supporting flight for the foundation that will be doing the event. Neal (the owner of AHC) son suffers from ADD. Neal and his wife started a foundation to support the cure and treatment of ADD. They raise donations for the foundation by helicopter flights. A few of the staff were at an event giving rides and were returning to FDK when they got into trouble.


My thoughts and prayers go out to Neal and all the staff at AHC. I knew only one of the victims but Neal only hires and associates with the best people. All will be missed. This is a tragic loss any way you look at it.


I've flown with AHC for years and never will you find a more safe and friendly environment.

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Permison & Dauphins- Sorry to hear of this when it strikes so close to home. It's been a horrible week for 44's, the one in Canada with a student pilot was a 44, I think this one was a 44 and the Santa Monica incident (where all walked away) was a 44. Obviously since a lot of us fly 44's we are most interested in what went wrong. What could we do different so that we don't suffer the same result?


When you hear of factual info please relay to us...again, sorry for your loss.



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I am in Bangkok right now but have talked to the office at AHC.


Three pilots and one passenger were returning from giving rides in a location out of Frederick, MD.


One of the three pilots was Nial, was the HeliFlights for Hope coordinator for the Sept event.


The other two pilots were instructors for AHC.


I have not had the opportunity to speak with Neal the owner but have passed the word to him of my willingness to assist and continue with plans of the Sept event if he needs my help when I return next week.


Yes, things are very busy there now as one would expect, so if you are expecting any contact from the HeliFlights for Hope event just give them some time to deal with the losses.


Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers,



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Thoughts and prayers to the families, what a sad loss for them and the school.


I agree it's been a horrible few days for the R44. One went down yesterday in Tampa, just off the coast, but all three made it out safely.


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Tell me they weren't following the lights from I-70 home at 70 feet AGL, in fog, at night with 3 CFI's on board.


As always let’s wait for the NTSB to complete its investigation before suggesting possible reasons for this tragic loss. Pilots are subjected to more than their fair share of armchair quarterbacking by the less than knowledgeable non flying public. As pilots in the aviation community we should know better. Any number of things could have gone wrong to cause this tragic event.


AHCs dedication to safety is unmatched in the community and their pilots and support staff are the best trained in aviation. I highly doubt that with the experience on board this aircraft they could have made such a judgment call. So many things can cause problems for the highly complex aircraft we fly. Please lets hold all suggestions as to what happened till the NTSB is able to complete their investigation.

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They should have just left the ship there until the weather was better. Based on the report, that was poor decision making, not only on the part of the PIC, but the other pilot(s) on board. We can't let our love of flying overcome common sense, these guys had multiple offers for an alternate ride home and turned them down. :(

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To all, this is a tragic loss of life. With tears in my eyes I must say what follows for the benefit of all to learn from this. I agree with flynhighnfast! We should all read the prelim NTSB and note stated facts. This was not mechanical failure! The PIC made repeated bad decisions. The fact that one or two of the other pilots were CFI's played no part in stopping the scenario from progressing to disaster. They should have accepted the ride home via car and talked to the PIC to go with them!


First, not accepting the ride home numerous times shows he was going to go, even under these recognized bad weather conditions. Scud running in the dark is just plain stupid. How much experience does a 700 hour pilot have scud running in the day time let alone in the dark! Day or night is WRONG!


Secondly, not having personal limits and sticking to them. The Temp and Dew points were within one degree of each other and tremendous moisture in the system. No one expected fog, low clouds? How about personal altitude limits for night flights?


Stating that this organization has the highest safety standards and best trained pilots in aviation is just emotions talking and suffering for the loss of friends and life. Why is it on this forum that when someone crashes they are the safest? How much night flight time did this pilot have? Was the aircraft instrument equipped? Did he have a personal limit for low altitude flight at night. Was any of this even considered? This entire scenario was well beyond my personal limits and I have a lot more experience that the PIC. What are your limits? Those of you that are going to bark at me, would you have departed or accepted the ride? Please do not try to justify the flight!


I know my words will anger some of you. Some of you are hurt and angry for the loss already. Take the hurt and turn it into something positive by noting the errors and if you are CFI, discuss this late night/weather scenario with your students.


I used to tell my students that they should not only fly according to basics and FAA regs. but also as if they had to go to court and face the prosecuting attorney and answer for every action!


Yes, I was offered 3 rides home.


Yes, I considered the safety of my passengers and sent them home in a car and tried it myself.


Yes, I am an instructor, and with my knowledge of the weather, I realized fog and low clouds were a good possibility.


Yes, I said repeatedly I would wait it out and did not.


Yes, I really went in spite of all of this.


We have moral responsibilities to protect the lives of our passengers. They place their trust in us. We are responsible when under these circumstances we kill them!


This is a terrible situation for all of us. The loss of friends and peers not to mention losses that families will endure.


Everyone of us should step up now and make sure this does not happen again in any way possible. Not to you, not to others! My way was to make this post, sadly and with respect and caring for all of you as a very senior aviator.


Sincerely, MikeMV

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If you can't see lights at night, don't go there- period. And I mean NEVER. It might just be dark and clear and an easy passage- but it might not be, in which case you have a problem if you're not at a safe altitude and ready for the transition to instruments. If you're in a bare VFR ship, you're screwed no matter what if it ain't VFR ahead.

This is especially true as you crest a mountain. Mountains have a big influence on weather. If there's a CU, precipitating or not, anywhere around, it'll be on one side or the other of the mountain. It don't have to be flashing and crashing to be a problem as you crest, either. Which is better, flying into the cloud as you crest unsure of where the rock is, or flying into the cloud afterwards, not knowing how big the cloud is, and whether you'll turn back clear of the rock...

Five hundred feet agl is my minimum night altitude, and a 1000 to 1500 is better. Even mountains I know loom at night. Add the facts that towers are often on top, way too frequently dark; and conducters (the BIG wires) have long, high spans in the mountains, often following highways through the pass... Yep, 500' is okay, and a 1000', or 1500' is better.

Down is deadly at night. If the weather's pushing you to slow down, and/or you're thinking about down as an option to maintain contact, it's time to quit. I'm not saying don't come down from a couple of thousand, but have a hard deck to make a decision. Then- Go home, make a precautionary, but quit what you're doing.


I don't know what happened here, but my advice still holds. Night EMS has something like 4 times the accident rate of days, and a surprising amount happen while transiting low, in the mountains.

Edited by Wally
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  • 4 weeks later...
Seriously FlyNHighNFast????? How about you just hold your tongue until the accident report comes out. It's only been a few days, and there's people on here that were close to the deceased. A little common sense goes a long way.


Darren: Based on the facts in the prelim. I stand by my statement. The NTSB is not speculating, and I'm going to bet the final report looks a lot like the prelim.


I hate it when a ship goes down, no matter where/who was flying.


A little common sense does go a long way. I wish that some was exercised that fateful night.

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I agree with Wally. If you can go IFR, do it. If not, don't scud-run. Stuff can sneak up on you in the dark and ruin your whole night. I was once cruising across the Gulf of Mexico, about a 200NM trip, in an S76 in the middle of the night. My SIC, flying in the right seat, said "It sure is dark ahead". I replied that it was, and that area of the Gulf was pretty dark because there wasn't much there. I glanced at the weather radar (thank the goddess for that) and saw a small spot. I had it on the 100 mile scale and hadn't paid much attention to it, because the weather was very good, and nothing was forecast. I changed it to a lower scale, and saw a very scary picture. There was a cell ahead, a little bit of yellow fringe and the rest was cyan, the most intense return. I had him turn to miss it, and started looking for something to see. We saw no lightning, nothing but black, but soon a light appeared from behind it, as a platform came into sight. If we had been in a single-engine helicopter, we would have never known it was there, and would have flown straight into the center of it. When it's dark, you can't see, and you have to be very, very cautious about what you're doing. It's bad enough in a large IFR-capable helicopter and IFR crew. In a small ship, it's really dangerous, and you had better be paying close attention to everything and taking no chances. Things that go bump in the night CAN kill you, and will if you don't do everything right. If you can't see lights ahead, it's time to quit.

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