The Airbus Helicopters AStar that crashed in Alaska on March 27 hit mountainous terrain 10 to 15 feet below a ridgeline at an altitude of approximately 5,500 feet msl and then tumbled down through the snow approximately 800 to 900 feet before coming to rest, according to the NTSB. The Part 135 heli-ski adventure flight killed five of the six on board.
NTSB member Tom Chapman characterized the crash site as “steep and remote terrain” approximately 21 miles southeast of Palmer and “accessible only by helicopter.” The sole survivor, identified as David Horvath, was rescued from the wreckage approximately six hours after the helicopter’s last satellite transmission at 6:34 p.m. local time. The helicopter was reported overdue two hours later and the wreckage was located at approximately 9:30 p.m. Horvath was flown to Anchorage with serious injuries. The local NTSB investigator on site was able to aerially document the crash site using an Alaska State Troopers helicopter equipped with a high-definition camera system a day after the crash.
While all of the deceased were recovered, Chapman said recovery of the wreckage is uncertain due to terrain and weather conditions in the area. He further said it was not possible to precisely determine weather conditions at the site at the time of the accident. Weather at Palmer (242 feet msl) was reported visibility 10 miles with scattered clouds at 6,500 feet. The accident helicopter, N351SH, was a 2008 AS350 B3e operated by Soloy Helicopters of Wasilla.