Thursday, June 23, 2016

Federal Aviation Administration opens investigation into low-flying helicopter at Race to Alaska start

Kathryn's Report: http://www.kathrynsreport.com



PORT TOWNSEND — The Federal Aviation Administration has begun an investigation into whether a helicopter flew too low at the Race to Alaska starting line last Thursday.

In an email, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the event was reported Monday morning through the agency’s aviation safety hotline with the FAA’s Seattle Flight Standards District Office taking charge of the investigation.

“It is impossible to say how long an investigation will take,” Gregor wrote.

Altitude restrictions

“While helicopters are not subject to the same altitude restrictions as airplanes, they have to be operated so they don’t pose a hazard to people or property on the surface.

“There is no specific foot limit. However, a helicopter should be operated so that the pilot can safely set it down in case of a loss of engine power.”

The blue helicopter began circling the harbor at about 5:45 a.m., first staying well away from the boats and then dropping down to just above the water while several hundred observers watched the start of the race in Port Townsend.

Preliminary reports said the helicopter flew as low as 8 to 15 feet above the water. 

Video

The FAA is currently examining a video of the incident that was posted on the Peninsula Daily News website at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-Helicopter, Gregor said.

Port Townsend Police Department spokesman Luke Bogues said the helicopter’s blades were below the masts of the ship on several occasions and the rotor wind blew paddleboarders off course. 

Emergency dispatchers at JeffCom 911 received several calls Thursday at about 6 a.m., Bogues said. 

Several witnesses submitted their photographs and videos of the incident to police, Bogues said. 

Local probe

Immediately after the incident, Port Townsend Police Officer Bill Corrigan began conducting a local investigation. 

Corrigan said the pilot was a 44-year-old man from Federal Way who was not immediately identified or charged. 

The pilot told police he was hired by a television news crew to film the proceedings.

He said the news crew was encouraging him to fly lower, and he expressed remorse for his decision, according to police. 

Corrigan reported the incident to the FAA on Thursday, according to a press release. 

Police sources were not available for further comment Monday.


http://www.peninsuladailynews.com


 



The pilot of a low-flying helicopter that flew amid the masts of sailboats outside Point Hudson Thursday morning is being investigated for reckless endangerment.

The helicopter was observed flying as low as an estimated 8 to 15 feet above the water before the 6 a.m. start of the second annual Race to Alaska.

Witnesses reported its rotor blades were below the height of some of the boats' masts. According to Section 91.119 of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flight rule guidelines, the minimum safe altitude to operate an aircraft over "any congested area of a city" or "over any assembly of persons" is 1,000 feet. Over open water, the limit is 500 feet.

The second annual motorless boat race from Port Townsend to Ketchikan, Alaska, attracted about 80 boats and small watercraft, a few thousand spectators, and two helicopters.

A yellow helo stayed higher while several bystanders called 911 to report a blue Robinson R44II helicopter flying close to boaters gathering outside the Point Hudson Marina.

Witnesses reported the rotor blades were disturbing the water's surface, and the helo was described as having flown as low as 8 feet above the water, hovering and moving between boats. Several witnesses submitted photographs and video evidence to the PTPD.

Bill Corrigan, PTPD officer and a pilot himself, identified the pilot as a 44-year old man from Federal Way, Washington. The pilot told police that he was flying the helicopter for a television news crew, according to a PTPD press release June 23, and that the news crew was encouraging him to fly lower.

"The pilot expressed remorse for his decision to fly that low," PTPD Detective Luke Bogues said in a press release.

No citation has yet been issued, Bogues said Thursday, because the investigation is ongoing. The incident has been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration's flight Standards District Office in Seattle. The FAA could launch its own investigation into whether any flight rules were broken by the pilot.


Original article can be found here:   http://www.ptleader.com




PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. -- Police are investigating after a helicopter was seen flying just feet away from dozens of sailboats Thursday morning in Port Townsend.

The boats, which were part of the Race to Alaska, were gathering outside Point Hudson at about 6 a.m. when a Robinson R44 II helicopter approached from above. Video of the incident shows the chopper flying close to the water and, in some cases, lower than the tops of the sailboats.

As many as 2,000 people were gathered on the shore to watch the beginning of the race, and several of them shot photos and video of the helicopter, according to the Port Townsend Police Department.

Police Officer Bill Corrigan, a pilot himself, is investigating the pilot for potential reckless endangerment charges, according to the department.

A 44-year-old pilot later told police he was flying the helicopter for a television news crew. The Federal Way man said the unidentified news crew was "encouraging him to fly lower," according to the police department.

Police say the pilot, who yet to be arrested or charged with any crimes, expressed remorse for flying that low. The FAA may launch their own investigation into whether any flight rules were broken by the pilot.

Nobody was injured and the race continued on as planned.

Original article can be found here: http://komonews.com 

PORT TOWNSEND — Police are considering filing reckless endangerment charges against the pilot of a helicopter that dipped low over boaters at the beginning of Thursday's Race to Alaska.

“It appears that the helicopter violated height restrictions, “ said Detective Luke Bogues of the Port Townsend Police Department.

He said the helicopter's blades were below the masts of the ship on several occasions. 

“It came so close to the water that a couple of paddleboarders were blown off course,” Bogues said.

Police Officer Bill Corrigan said the pilot was a 44-year-old man from Federal Way. 

Police did not identify the man, who was not charged Thursday.

The pilot told police he was hired by a television news crew to film the proceedings.

He said the news crew was encouraging him to fly lower, and he expressed remorse for his decision, according to police. 

Bogues said the police investigation included determining the news crew's identity. 

The blue helicopter with no markings began circling the harbor at about 5:45 a.m., first staying well away from the boats and then dropping down to just above the water while several hundred observers watched the start of the race.

Emergency dispatchers at JeffCom 911 received several calls at about 6 a.m., Bogues said. 

According to these calls, the helicopter was described as having flown some 8 to 15 feet above the water.

Several witnesses submitted their photographs and videos of the incident to police, Bogues said. 

Corrigan reported the incident to the Federal Aviation Administration's Flight Standards District Office in Seattle. 

The FAA may launch its own investigation into whether the pilot violated flight rules, Bogues said.

Through its FAA registration number, the helicopter is an 11-year-old Robinson rotorcraft owned by Emerald City Aircraft Leasing in Port Orchard. 

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com

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