Author Topic: Bahamas: 7 Americans killed in helicopter crash*UPDATE*  (Read 1495 times)

Offline KB4TEZ

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Bahamas: 7 Americans killed in helicopter crash*UPDATE*
« on: July 05, 2019, 07:54:34 AM »
(tail rotor let loose?)

Juno Beach-area billionaire Chris Cline, his daughter, three of her friends, and two pilots died in the July 4 crash.

The helicopter carrying billionaire and part-time Palm Beach County resident Christopher Cline and six others was in the air only about a minute before it went into a spin, dropped 50 feet, and slammed into the Atlantic Ocean on July 4 near Cline’s private island in the Bahamas, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report posted Wednesday.

The report does not provide any hints about what might have brought down the corporate helicopter, killing Cline, his daughter and three of her friends, and two pilots.

It does say the 15-passenger Augusta s.p.a AW139 was found upside down, with its tail boom separated from the fuselage and in several pieces. It says all five main rotor blades and all four tail blades had come off.

While the NTSB report doesn’t address this, Bahamian authorities said earlier that some of the damage could have come on impact with the water or during the process of pulling the 7½ ton helicopter out of 16 feet of water.The crash killed Cline’s daughter Kameron, 22; Brittney Searson, 21, her best friend and classmate both at The Benjamin School in Palm Beach Gardens and Louisiana State University, from which they graduated in May; Delaney Wykle, 23, a childhood friend of Kameron; and Jillian Clark, 22, another recent LSU graduate and a fellow sorority member of Kameron.

Also killed: pilots Geoffrey Painter, 52, and David Jude, 57. The two operated Cloud 9 Helicopters, based at the North Palm Beach County Airport in suburban Palm Beach Gardens.

On July 8, four days after the crash, the Bahamas Air Accident Investigation Department said it had turned over investigation of the crash to its American counterparts at NTSB. That agency has said a final report could take one to two years.

According to the eight-paragraph preliminary report, the pilot -- Bahamian authorities have said it was Painter -- had filed an instrument rules flight plan to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. “Instrument rules” means the chopper was flying by its instruments, rather than by sight, because it was the middle of the night.

The report said the chopper left from a concrete pad at Big Grand Cay, about 6 miles southeast of Walker’s Cay, population about 400. Big Grand Cay is about 115 miles northeast of Palm Beach.

Family members have said one of the party had taken ill and was being flown to Florida for treatment; the NTSB report says it was two people, but doesn’t elaborate.

The report said the chopper had left Palm Beach International Airport just before 1 a.m. and a witness -- it doesn’t say who or where -- watched it land at Big Grand Cay between 1:30 a.m. and 1:45 a.m. It kept its engines running while the passengers boarded -- the report doesn’t say if both pilots had come from Florida or if one boarded at Big Grand Cay -- and then climbed to 30 or 40 feet before accelerating in a traditional nose-down attitude.

The witness “did not notice anything unusual while he observed the helicopter depart,” the report said.

Another witness who was about two miles southwest of the accident site -- again, the report doesn’t say who or where -- reported seeing the helicopter rise to 40 to 50 feet. The report said he then “noted blue and white lights spinning to the left at a rate of about one to two seconds between rotations while descending. He estimated that the helicopter rotated to the left three to four times. He then heard a ‘whoosh whoosh whoosh’ sound, and lost sight of the helicopter, which was followed by the sound of an impact.”

The report said the witness reported what he’d heard to a manager at Big Grand Cay, who raced out in a boat with spotlights but could not find the downed aircraft.

Bahamian authorities have said family members alerted them when the helicopter had not arrived in Florida, and the NTSB report said the Federal Aviation Administration issued an “overdue flight” notice about 3:20 p.m.

People then found the wreckage between 4 and 5 p.m., about a mile and half from where it had left.

The NTSB said the helicopter had a flight recorder, an enhanced ground proximity warning system and several additional components capable of storing data which would survive a water impact, and all were being examined.

The report said there was no explosion. It also reiterated what meteorologists in both Miami and Nassau have said: weather was clear and was not a factor.

Cline, worth nearly $2 billion, owned a oceanfront mansion in Seminole Landing, off U.S. 1 between PGA Boulevard and Donald Ross Road just south of Juno Beach. It is one of three clustered parcels that property records list with a combined market value of $21.5 million.

He also was a philanthropist who built orphanages in Haiti, donated $8.5 million to Marshall University and gave $5 million to West Virginia University. He also developed a sports center in his father’s name in Beckley, in southern West Virginia.

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — A helicopter carrying seven Americans to Fort Lauderdale, Florida crashed Thursday off Grand Cay island in the Bahamas, killing everyone on board, Bahamian police said.

A statement from the Royal Bahamas Police Force said the helicopter went missing shortly after leaving Big Grand Cay and authorities and local residents later found the crash site two miles off Grand Cay. Police identified those killed as four women and three men but did not provide names.

The Register-Herald newspaper in Beckley, West Virginia, quoted Gov. Jim Justice as saying that one of the people killed in the crash was Chris Cline, whom the newspaper described as a "billionaire mining entrepreneur," "coal tycoon" and "benefactor to southern West Virginia."

"West Virginia lost a super star, without any question," the newspaper quoted Justice as saying. "A giving, good man. I just love him with all my soul. ... As governor, I will tell you we've lost a great West Virginian."
« Last Edit: July 24, 2019, 04:03:03 PM by kb4tez »