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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 44811
Last updated: 1 July 2020
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Time:03:24 EDT
Type:Silhouette image of generic R44 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Robinson R44 Astro
Owner/operator:Verticare Inc
Registration: N70144
C/n / msn: 0362
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:near Old Furnace State Park, Killingly, Connecticut -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, Scranton, PA (AVP/KAVP)
Destination airport:Theodore Francis Green State Airport, Providence, Rhode Island (KPVD)
On June 18, 2004, at 03:24 EDT (Eastern Daylight Time), a Robinson R-44 helicopter, N70144, operated by Verticare, Incorporated, of Salinas, California, was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain near Old Furnace State Park, Killingly, Connecticut. The certificated commercial pilot and the certificated private pilot were fatally injured. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the flight between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (AVP), Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Theodore Francis Green State Airport (PVD), Providence, Rhode Island. The positioning flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the president of Verticare, he and a cameraman had arrived in Providence on a commercial flight from California on June 17, 2004, for aerial video work in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Ohio. The accident helicopter, a "News Copter Version," left Salinas on June 14, 2004, and was expected to arrive at Theodore Francis Green State Airport early on June 18, 2004. The pilots were scheduled to take a commercial flight back to California later that same day.

The president also reported that he had spoken with the pilot in command while they were on the ground in Scranton, and he reported that, "they were fully fuelled...and evaluated weather conditions." The president was not aware by what means the pilots had evaluated the weather.

The president expected the helicopter to arrive at Theodore Francis Green Airport about 02:30 EDT, and both he and the cameraman went to meet it. During their wait, they spoke with other operators there who reported the weather conditions as poor, and one Learjet pilot, who had recently landed, stated that the ceiling was about 200 feet. The president and the cameraman continued to wait for the helicopter until 08:00 EDT, "in hopes [the pilots] had stopped somewhere and would arrive later that morning."

Downloaded data from a handheld GPS unit found at the crash site revealed that the helicopter had departed Scranton at 00:47 EDT. It then proceeded east, along Interstate 84, to Middletown, New York. It then turned southeast, along Route 17, then turned south, along Interstate 87. The helicopter subsequently passed Nyack, New York, crossed the Hudson River, and continued southeast until reaching Port Chester, New York. It then followed Interstate 95 northeast, until turning further northeast on Interstate 395.

Over Interstate 95, the helicopter began a climb, up to 8,600 feet by 02:50 EDT. In the vicinity of Killingly, Connecticut, about 03:06 EDT, the helicopter began a series of four, descending, right turns, beginning about 8,000 feet. It then made a much wider right turn, to the northwest of the original turns, and passed directly over Danielson Airport (5B3), Danielson, Connecticut, about 4,600 feet. The helicopter subsequently proceeded back to the south, to the area where the original turns took place, and completed four more descending right turns until the track stopped at 03:24 EDT, at an indicated altitude of 560 feet.

Recorded speeds during the circling descents, from 8,000 feet to about 750 feet, varied between 72 mph and 127 mph. Subsequently recorded speeds, from time 03:23.27 EDT through 03:24.00 EDT, were between 75 and 79 mph. The speed recorded at 03:24.01 EDT was 80.2 mph; at 03:24.03 EDT, 25.9 mph; at 03:24.04 EDT, 29.2 mph; and the last recorded speed, at 03:24.05 EDT, was 11.4 mph.

The civil air patrol launched an air search, while police searched on the ground. The wreckage of the Robinson R44 helicopter was located about 1:45 p.m. by the WTNH-TV news helicopter, whose crew helped direct police to the scene. The tail of the aircraft had separated from the fuselage.

The wreckage was located in a heavily wooded area, about 2.7 nautical miles, 130 degrees from the approach end of Danielson Airport runway 31. A topographic overlay of the location revealed a ground elevation of about 470 feet. The accident occurred during the hours of darkness, in the vicinity of 41 degrees 46.96 minutes north latitude, 71 degrees, 51.45 minutes west longitude.

Both on board were killed: according to contemporary newspaper reports (see link #6) 'The instructor was a Norwegian national and the student was a California resident'. A witness, who lived near the crash site, reported that she awoke to the sound of a helicopter, then a crash, around 03:30 EDT. She looked out her window, "but couldn't see anything. It was really foggy outside. The fog was so thick I could only see the outline of the trees about 20 feet away." The witness also noted that "it didn't seem windy at all, but you could see moisture in the air."

Probable Cause: The pilot in command's intentional flight into instrument meteorological flight conditions, and his failure to maintain obstacle clearance which resulted in a controlled descent into trees. Factors included the pilot's inadequate weather evaluation, low cloud ceilings, fog, and dark night lighting conditions.


1. NTSB Identification: IAD04FA025 at
2. FAA register:

Revision history:

28-Oct-2008 00:45 ASN archive Added
02-Sep-2016 23:24 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:24 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
07-Dec-2017 18:07 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
19-Oct-2018 21:40 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
19-Oct-2018 21:43 Dr.John Smith Updated [Departure airport, Destination airport]

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