R66 Helicopter Accident Claims Five

 - August 5, 2013, 2:05 PM

A Robinson R66 single-turbine helicopter crashed on July 30 approximately 20 miles west of Scranton, Pa., killing all five people aboard. The purpose of the flight between Tri-Cities Airport (KCZG) in Endicott, N.Y., and Jake Arner Memorial Airport (22N) in Lehighton, Pa., has not been described. Fort Meade, Md.-based Monumental Helicopters was operating the aircraft. The company provides aerial tours, fundraising, aerial photography and flight training.

Witnesses in the crash locale said that weather in the area at the time of the accident–approximately 10:20 p.m. local time–was poor, with fog and thunderstorms.

The pilot reportedly lost contact with Wilkes-Barre control tower at Scranton International Airport (KAVP) shortly after announcing he was losing altitude. According to information from the Wyoming County coroner’s office, the only certified pilot aboard the R66 was also a flight instructor and was assumed to be the PIC at the time of the accident, although one victim held a valid student pilot certificate.

Rescuers did not locate the wreckage of the helicopter until the morning after the accident.