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Mon, Jul 19, 2004

Pilot Warned About Weather Before Fatal Crash

NTSB: Helo Launched VFR In IMC

The NTSB says 27-year old Wyatt Zane Rodgers shouldn't have been flying VFR on June 27th. That's when Rodgers and two passengers, Kendall and Kelly Loudermilk, were killed when Rodgers' R-44 (file photo of type, below) went down near Barnesville (GA).

Why shouldn't Rodgers have been flying? The NTSB reports he was briefed that the weather was IMC, yet he launched VFR anyway. In its preliminary report, the NTSB wrote:

On June 27, 2004 at 0530 eastern daylight time a Robinson Helicopter R44, N441MG, registered to and operated by MG Aviation, collided with trees during a cross-country flight in a residential area in Barnesville, Georgia. The personal flight was operated under provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed. The helicopter sustained substantial damage. The certified flight instructor, and two passengers were fatally injured. The flight originated from Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Greer, South Carolina, on June 27, 2004 approximately 0300.

According to a witness, at 0530 a helicopter was heard over the residential area in Barnesville, Georgia. Shortly afterward, an explosion was heard. When witnesses searched the area, a helicopter was found engulfed in flames. Efforts by the witnesses extinguish the flames were unsuccessful. No radio communication was received from the pilot prior to the accident.

Examination of the wreckage site revealed the helicopter came to rest approximately 25 yards behind a residential home. The wreckage path was approximately 35 feet in length on a northerly heading. Freshly cut trees were along the wreckage path. The helicopter came to rest at the base of a tree and the main fuselage was fire damaged. The tail boom section was broken, and buckled. The main rotor blades were buckled and separated from the main rotor mass. The tail rotor shaft was separated from the tail boom and lodge in a tree. The tail rotor gearbox was separated and the tail rotor blades were broken. The landing skids were broken and separated from the fuselage. Additional helicopter wreckage debris was found forward of the main wreckage.

FMI: www.airsafe.com/analyze/ntsbdb.htm

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