Preliminary Report: Florida swamp claims two aboard Bell 206L-1
BELL 206L-1, NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FLA., FEB. 16, 2002–A pilot and his revenue passenger died while trying to land at the Spruce Creek Airport (7FL6), a residential air park six miles south of Daytona Beach (Fla.) International Airport. The Part 135 air-taxi flight, operated by Universal Air Service, originated from Orlando, Fla., at 0550. VMC prevailed across most of the area though local law-enforcement personnel reported low clouds and reduced visibility at the time of the accident.
Preliminary reports show the pilot received a weather briefing from St. Petersburg FSS and reported his departure with Universal operations as the tower was not yet open. The pilot was scheduled to pick up Nascar racing team owner (and former Washington Redskins Coach) Joe Gibbs at the Spruce Creek Airport. When the helicopter failed to arrive, Gibbs notified the FAA, which then issued an alert notice. Several hours later the helicopter was found in a “swampy area approximately six miles southeast of Spruce Creek Airport.”