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N820CW accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Syracuse, UT
41.089388°N, 112.064666°W

Tail number N820CW
Accident date 24 Jul 1994
Aircraft type Bell 206B Iii
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On July 24, 1994, approximately 1713 mountain daylight time, a Bell 206B III, N820CW, collided with the surface of the Great Salt Lake near Syracuse, Utah, after departing from Antelope Island, Utah. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The helicopter was destroyed and the commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured.

The helicopter was en route to Bountiful, Utah.

The operator reported that the purpose of the flight was to drop off passengers on Antelope Island. The helicopter was reported overdue to search and rescue personnel at 2128. A piece of the wreckage was located at 0200 on July 25, 1994, submerged in four to five feet of water.

Company personnel reported that the flight began earlier in the day from the Bountiful Skypark Airport to fly a filming crew around the area. The helicopter was due to land on Antelope Island at around 1700 to disembark the film crew. The film crew reported that after landing on the island, the pilot kept the helicopter running and he talked with the crew for approximately 10 minutes. At no time did the pilot indicate to the crew that there were any problems with the helicopter, nor did the pilot check for anything. The pilot then got back into the helicopter and took off in a northeasterly direction and was last seen flying low over the rolling terrain until visual sighting was lost.

The pilot was due back at the Skypark airport around 1730. The helicopter was not reported overdue to company personnel until around 2000 when the pilot's wife called to report her husband was not at home. Company personnel then confirmed that the helicopter was not at the airport and search and rescue personnel were notified shortly thereafer.

Company personnel reported that the pilot should have contacted the company upon his departure from the island, however, the radio is not always monitored and no one at the company received a transmission. The employees also reported that the pilot's route of flight should have been to fly to the north end of the island and follow the causeway, travelling easterly to the mainland, then turn southeasterly to the airport.


The certificated commercial pilot had accumulated a total flight time of 9,247 hours, with 3,506 hours in the Bell 206. The pilot was the the Director of Operations and Chief Pilot of Helicopter Services and also flew this helicopter for Classic Helicopters. Both operated out of the same hanger conducting 14 CFR 91 and 14 CFR 135 operations.


Wreckage was located by search and rescue personnel on July 25, 1994, at 0200. The lower floor section of the fuselage with the skids attached and part of the fuselage at the baggage compartment were found floating in the water. A two foot section of a main rotor blade, a three foot section of the aft fuselage, three or four small pieces of fuselage skin, the pilot's helmet, a seat cushion and a survival pouch washed on shore at the causeway. The search for the remainder of the wreckage was attempted, however, no other wreckage was located.

Inspection of the items recovered revealed that the main skids were relatively undamaged. The attach mounts were in place and there was no evidence of bending. The lower section of the interior of the floor displayed some "slash" type rips on the floor. The front seats had separated at the floor mounts. No cockpit or flight controls were present. The aft seat back was in place, however, loose. The fuel bladder was ruptured. The area aft of the baggage compartment was ripped away. The ripping and bending to this area indicates that the tail section broke away to the right. The area on the exterior of the floor also showed signs of slash marks and compression bending.


The Office of the Medical Examiner reported that the pilot's cause of death was due to drowning with distended, congested, and fluid-filled lungs. Also listed as causes were blunt force injuries to the head and extremities.

Toxiclogical samples were sent to the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aeromedical Institute for analysis. The results of the tests were positive for Naproxen in the blood and urine.


Salt Lake City Air Traffic reported that there was no communication with the pilot when he departed from Antelope Island. Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center reported that a 1200 transponder coded aircraft was first identified leaving the northeast end of the island at 4,500 feet at 1711. The target travelled southeasterly along the island's shoreline at 4,400 feet, then turned easterly out over the water at 4,400 feet. The last target was identified at 4,300 feet at 1713, midway between the island and the mainland. The water level in this area is 4,200 feet. There were no communications or distress calls received.

The wreckage was verbally released to the owner on July 30, 1994, with the agreement that if further wreckage was located, the owner was to contact the National Transportation Safety Board. To this date, no further wreckage has been located and the NTSB Release of Wreckage form was signed on December 29, 1994.

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