Saturday, May 7, 2016

Eurocopter AS 350 B2 AStar, N94TH, Temsco Helicopters Inc: Fatal accident occurred May 06, 2016 in Skagway, Alaska


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Juneau FSDO-05

NTSB Identification: ANC16FA023
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, May 06, 2016 in Skagway, AK
Aircraft: AIRBUS AS350, registration: N94TH
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On May 6, 2016, about 1855 Alaska daylight time, an Airbus AS350B2 helicopter, N94TH, collided with snow-covered terrain while en route to Skagway, Alaska, about 4 miles southeast of Skagway. The commercial pilot sustained fatal injuries, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was registered to, and operated by, Temsco Helicopters, Inc., Ketchikan, Alaska, as a day, visual flight rules (VFR) flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 on-demand charter flight. Marginal visual meteorological conditions were reported on the Denver Glacier at the time of the accident, and company flight following procedures were in effect. The flight originated from the operator's heliport in Skagway, about 1840.

During an interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on May 9, the operator reported that the pilot departed from the operator's heliport to drop off one passenger and 12 dogs at a remote dog sledding camp situated on the Denver Glacier. The pilot dropped off the single passenger and the 12 dogs and departed to return to the heliport with the dog crates onboard the helicopter. The helicopter flew towards the previously used aerial return route to the southwest, and then the helicopter turned and flew to the north. Visibility was reported for the previously used aerial return route as about 1/4 mile, and to the north of the dog sledding camp visibility was reported as about 1/2 mile. 

The helicopter was classified as overdue by the operator and a second company helicopter departed from the heliport at Skagway to check on the status of the overdue helicopter. The second helicopter aircrew discovered the overdue helicopter resting on its left side with the tailboom separated in steep mountainous terrain in close proximity to a frozen glacial lake, about 2 miles northeast of the dog sledding camp. 

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the main rotor system, the fuselage, the tailboom, and the tail rotor system. 

On May 8, the NTSB IIC, along with an additional NTSB investigator, an inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration's Juneau Flight Standards District Office, and a representative from Temsco Helicopters traveled to the accident scene. The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure facility for future examination of the airframe and engine.

The closest official weather observation station is located at the Skagway Airport (AGY), about 4 miles to the northwest of the accident site. At 1853, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting, and stated in part: Wind 210 degrees (true) at 19 knots, gusting to 28 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; clouds and sky condition, few clouds at 8,000 feet; temperature 53 degrees F; dew point 37 degrees F; altimeter 29.81 inHg.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Chris Maggio and Becky Silvers Mull pose for a photo after dropping off supplies to Upper Dewey Lake in preparation for Kate and John Harmon’s wedding last fall. 

On May 6, Skagway lost a piece of its heart.

It was a loss felt round the valley, echoing off mountain caps with rockslides and rainbows that could only be described as resistance to the pain and celebration of a life cut too short.

Longtime Temso Helicopter Inc. pilot and beloved Skagway resident Christoper Maggio, 59, died after his helicopter crashed near Denver Glacier during a supply run return from Alaska Icefield Expedition’s’ sled dog camp. At 7 p.m., when his arrival back to Temsco’s base was overdue, management made the decision to send a helicopter to search for him. His crashed helicopter was found at 8 p.m. by a fellow Temsco pilot.

Alaska State Trooper Ryan Anderson said the cause and time of the crash remains unknown but is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board personnel.

NTSB Aviation Accident Investigator Mike Hodges said the Airbus AS350B2 helicopter impacpted the terrain under unknown circumstances, and the wreckage is in the process of being recovered. While a complete report of the crash could take up to a year and a half, he said a preliminary report will be available on their website within five to 10 days.

“We want to do a methodical and in-depth investigation of the man, the machine and environment,” he said.

The U.S. Coast Guard was alerted of the crash and sent assistance from Sitka at 8:26 p.m. Search and rescue confirmed only Maggio was on board. His body was recovered by the Skagway Fire Department and was sent to the medical examiner in Anchorage for an autopsy.

Temsco Vice President of Tours and Marketing Tim McDonnell said Maggio had worked for the company for more than 20 years. The loss of a pilot and friend has hurt the Temsco family as much as it has the community of Skagway.

“We’re just going through this thing as best as we can,” McDonnell said. “We share the mourning as well. It’s a great loss to both the community and to the company.”

News of Maggio’s death sent waves of grief throughout the valley. Facebook feeds were flooded with memories and photos, each one highlighting a kind heart, glowing smile and his love for flying.

In 1997, Maggio rescued a pilot and passenger from a Haines Airways crash that took the lives of four others.  As reported in the Juneau Empire, Maggio and Ben Tatone arrived just outside of Burro Creek in just seven minutes, sending emergency floats to the survivors. They guided rescue boats to the women who were then brought back to shore. He was quoted as saying he wished they could have done more.

He was recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2013 with his inclusion in the prestigious FAA Airmen Certification Database, listing him as a pilot who has exceeded the high educational, licensing and medical standards established by the FAA.

Maggio had a love for antique cars, music, his family and his partner Denise Caposey.

He was a former Skagway School Board member and an active member of the Skagway Arts Council. He taught a ukulele workshop at the school for three years and was known for his musical talents.

But of all the things he was known for, he was known most for his great smile and infectious kindness.

On a personal note, I saw Maggio on Friday. As he drove past, we smiled and waved. I can’t say I knew him well, but he always had kind words for the paper and a smile to share, accompanied by a twinkling eye revealing his love and light. His death has created a well of grief for all who knew him, if only by a few passing phrases and smiles.

Grief in Skagway is similar to love in Skagway. It is strong and loud and all at once. It is all encompassing and filled with emotion. In a way, grief in Skagway is love. It is a love for the community, love for family, love for each other and love for a man who will never be forgotten.

A celebration of life will be held in Maggio’s memory today from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Temsco Helicopters on the Ore Dock. All are welcome to attend.

Last Friday, rainbows welcomed Maggio into the sky. Last Saturday, boulders fell from the mountain, crushing a considerable section of train track. The valley mourned the loss of one of its own, and Skagway did too.

A Skagway helicopter pilot if dead following a crash outside Skagway on Friday evening. The pilot was 59-year-old Christopher Maggio of Skagway. Maggio was the only person on board. 

According to an Alaska State Trooper report, the U.S. Coast Guard contacted troopers Friday evening around 8:30 to report that a helicopter had gone down near the upper portion of the Denver Glacier, six miles east of Skagway.

A Coast Guard helicopter crew from Sitka to locate the crash site and confirmed the pilot was deceased. Skagway Search and Rescue recovered Maggio on Saturday afternoon. Maggio’s remains will be sent to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Anchorage for an autopsy. Next of kin have been notified.

This is the second Southeast helicopter crash this week.

Tim DeSpain is a public information officer for the troopers. He said Saturday that the helicopter was returning to the Skagway base from the glacier dog camp after dropping off supplies when it went down.

The National Weather Service called for cloudy, windy conditions Friday afternoon and evening. Wind gusts were estimated at around 40 miles per hour. The cause of the crash is unknown.

According to Joe Vicks, Temsco’s senior vice president, the pilot was overdue from his supply drop as of 7 p.m. Friday. He said another Temsco helicopter was launched at 7:12 p.m. from Skagway and at 8 p.m. the aircraft was located and the Coast Guard notified.  Rescue efforts were then coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard and local fire and rescue teams.

The National Transportation Safety Board has started an investigation into the cause of the crash.

Vicks stated that “Temsco will not speculate or release any details regarding the cause of the incident until authorized to do so by the NTSB.”

“The entire Temsco family is deeply saddened by this tragic incident, and our thoughts and prayers go to the family and loved ones of our pilot,” Vicks said.

As the summer tourist season gears up, helicopters are busy flying gear, guides and sled dogs to summer glacier camps. An Era helicopter crashed on the Norris Glacier outside Juneau on Thursday, injuring the pilot. Both the Norris and Denver glaciers serve as seasonal basecamps for different sled dog tour companies.

Original article can be found here:

A pilot was killed when his helicopter crashed near a glacier in Skagway, the Alaska State Troopers reported late Friday.

The Coast Guard in Juneau contacted troopers to report the crash at 8:26 p.m. Friday near the upper portion of Denver Glacier, the report said.  

The pilot’s name has not been released, pending notification of family.

The recovery of the pilot's body was in progress Saturday morning, with local authorities in Skagway conducting the effort, said Tim DeSpain, a troopers spokesperson.

The helicopter belonged to TEMSCO, he said. The company offers charters and tours in Southeast Alaska.

DeSpain said the helicopter was returning from a TEMSCO dog camp on the Juneau Icefield, he said.

“I’m pretty sure he was dropping off supplies, not people,” said DeSpain, referring to the pilot.

TEMSCO could not immediately be reached. 

Original article can be found here:

ANCHORAGE – A pilot was killed after their helicopter crashed on the Denver Glacier in Skagway Friday, Alaska State Troopers report.

A spokesman from U.S.Coast Guard Sector Juneau said local flight command reported the helicopter was overdue, leading them to launch a helicopter with crew from Sitka to conduct a search. The USCG said the downed helicopter was located at roughly 10:40 p.m., and a single crew member was lowered to investigate the site.

The USCG contacted troopers about the crash after they verified the pilot, the sole occupant of the aircraft, was dead, an online dispatch said. The crew was unable to retrieve the pilot’s body due to conditions at the time, according to the Coast Guard, so Skagway Search and Rescue was contacted. They were dropped off at a nearby campsite by Temsco Helicopters Friday night and made plans to retrieve the body Saturday, troopers said.

The identity of the pilot is being withheld until their family can be notified.

Original article can be found here:

A Skagway pilot was killed after a helicopter crashed near Denver Glacier early Friday evening.

The pilot’s identity has yet to be released to the public.

Alaska State Trooper Ryan Anderson said the helicopter went down on its way back from TEMSCO’s dog camp located on the Juneau Icefield. Time and cause of the crash remains unknown and will fall under the National Transportation Safety Board’s jurisdiction.

According to Anderson, a second helicopter was sent looking for the first and found the crash near the Denver Glacier. The US Coast Guard was alerted and sent assistance from Sitka on Friday at 8:26 p.m.

Search and rescue was deployed and confirmed that there were no survivors and only the pilot on board.

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