Saturday, June 9, 2018

Robinson R44, N529DW, registered to and operated by MF Helicopters LLC: Fatal accident occurred June 09, 2018 in Oshkosh, Winnebago County, Wisconsin

Jonathan D. Bahr
May 27, 1991 - June 9, 2018

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Oshkosh, WI
Accident Number: CEN18FA215
Date & Time: 06/09/2018, 1225 CDT
Registration: N529DW
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Business 

On June 9, 2018, at 1229 central daylight time, a Robinson R44 helicopter, N529DW, collided with cables during an initial climb after taking off from a field in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to and operated by MF Helicopters LLC as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 aerial photography flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed near the accident site at the time of the accident, and a flight plan had not been filed for the local flight. The helicopter was en route to Wittman Field (OSH), Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The helicopter was engaged in aerial photography operations for the Four Horseman Poker Run on Lake Winnebago. The helicopter was operating from a field next to the Dockside Tavern on the Fox River, about ½ mile southeast of the accident site. The pilot and a photographer were airborne for about 1 hour 30 minutes flying to the west at low altitudes over a series of lakes and rivers while photographing the boats. The pilot returned to the departure field and the photographer exited the helicopter. The pilot then took off to the south with the intent of flying to OSH to refuel. At some point the pilot turned and began flying to the northwest along the river. Shortly after the turn, the helicopter contacted a static line and a fiber optic line which were the top two lines of a five-line array that crossed over the Fox River. The helicopter subsequently impacted the river and sank. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: ROBINSON HELICOPTER
Registration: N529DW
Model/Series: R44 UNDESIGNATED
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: OSH, 808 ft msl
Observation Time: 1153 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C / 16°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots, 80°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.05 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Oshkosh, WI
Destination: Oshkosh, WI (OSH) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 44.017222, -88.549444 (est)

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 

OSHKOSH/ FOND DU LAC, Wis. The photographer who got off a helicopter right before it crashed in Oshkosh tells Action 2 News he was shaken by the death.

“My phone started ringing like crazy with people asking if I was ok or what the story was,” he said.

Action 2 News was on the scene Saturday night as crews pulled that aircraft out of the water. The pilot of that helicopter, 27-year-old Jonathan Bahr of Platteville died in the crash.

Bahr was hired to fly photographers over Lake Winnebago during the Four Horsemen Poker Run. The helicopter crashed into power lines Saturday afternoon and sunk into the Fox River in downtown Oshkosh.

Witnesses said Saturday they saw two people in that helicopter, a pilot and a photographer leaning out of the aircraft taking pictures. That photographer was Pete Boden, and it turns out he was dropped off minutes before the helicopter crashed.

"We had finished about half the event and at that point decided to get fuel, the pilot dropped me back off and probably five minutes later some guy came up and says a helicopter just crashed,” said Boden.

Boden says he didn't see anything out of the ordinary that day, adding he does this almost every weekend in the summer time.

"I didn't know the pilot very well, I had just met him that day, but my time flying with him was a good experience. I've flown with a lot of pilots and I was very comfortable with his abilities and everything,” Boden says.

After hearing about the accident, Boden was in shock.

"I’m sort of in disbelief but at the same time it's like whoa, you know, it's just isn't my time to go yet,” Boden adds.

The helicopter crash caused law enforcement to stop boat traffic on the Fox River in Oshkosh for hours.

One of Wisconsin's longest running community fishing tournaments, 'Walleye Weekend,' was affected by the helicopter crash. Tournament directors say they had to send a team up to Oshkosh so anglers could get checked in and have their fish weighed.

"It was a very tragic accident, something that was completely unexpected so we just did our best to make sure that the fish were taken care of, the anglers were taken care of and their weights could be contributed to the whole weekend," said Michelle Kilburn, Competitive Angling Senior Manager for Mercury Marine.

The news of the crash had quickly spread throughout the tournament.

"I heard was there was a crash and it hit power lines and some were stuck up in Oshkosh," said Linda Wittnebel a competitor from Mayville, WI.

"I heard about the helicopter crash from the EMT up on the point there and it's a pretty horrible thing that happened, never wish for anything like that to happen, and it's pretty scary," said Tim Faris, an angler from Hastings, NE.

The ongoing helicopter crash investigation has been turned over to the FAA and NTSB.

Story and video ➤

Jonathan D. Bahr, 27, of Platteville, died on Saturday, June 9, 2018, from injuries sustained in a helicopter accident. A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 16, 2018 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Kieler. Father Bernard Rott will officiate. Burial will be at the church cemetery, where military rites will be accorded. Friends may call from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Friday, June 15, 2018 at the Immaculate Conception Parish Center or from 9:30 a.m. until the time of service on Saturday, where there will be a parish rosary at 10:00 a.m. The Melby Funeral Home & Crematory of Platteville is serving the family. Memorials may be made to the Jonathan D. Bahr Memorial Fund. Online condolences may be made at

Jonathan was born on May 27, 1991 in Platteville, Wisconsin, son of Glen R. and Lori Erschen-Bahr.

Jonathan graduated from Platteville High School in 2010. During that time he earned the rank of Eagle Scout by completing a swinging bench project for Wisconsin Badger Camp, a summer camp for people with disabilities, that is still enjoyed today by campers and visitors alike.

After graduation, Jonathan joined the Army, becoming an Airborne Ranger with the 3rd Batallion 75th Ranger Regiment at Ft. Benning Georgia with whom he did a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Upon leaving the military, Jonathan attended Embry-Riddle, Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona. He can be found listed on the Dean’s List for Academic Achievement during several of his semesters there and had earned his Certified Flight Instructor I rating, and only had his CFI II rating left to complete his Aeronautical Science degree. In his time at ERAU, Jonathan was Club President of the Blacksheep Rugby Team, a sport which he loved very much.

Jonathan loved flying helicopters, but above that, he loved everyone around him, and loved life, which he lived to the fullest. He took every opportunity he had to come home and spend time with family and friends. He also loved camping, cooking out, and coasting down rivers with his buddies. He loved playing games, especially Risk and Monopoly. He often kept in touch with his cousins and brothers through online games.

Jonathan is survived by his parents, Glen R. Bahr & Lori Erschen-Bahr; his three siblings, Loren G. Bahr, Benjamin R. Bahr, and Elissa (David) Granger; his grandparents, Helen J. Bahr, and John & Janet Erschen; and aunts, uncles, and cousins. He is preceded by his grandfather, Wayne Al Bahr, and by his uncle, David Erschen, from whom he received his middle name. Jonathan’s kind heart & special humor touched the lives of everyone around him, and he will be greatly missed.

OSHKOSH, Wis. - Authorities have released the name of a Wisconsin pilot killed when a helicopter hit power lines and plunged into the Fox River.

The Winnebago County Sheriff's Office on Sunday identified the victim as 27-year-old Jonathan Bahr of Platteville. He was alone in the Robinson R44 helicopter when it went down Saturday in Oshkosh, 94 miles (151 kilometers) north of Milwaukee.

Lt. Steve Brewer says Bahr was hired to take photographers over Lake Winnebago during a power-boat event.

Shannon Radtke, coordinator for the Four Horsemen Poker Run, an annual charitable event, says her group hired Bahr. Radtke says the pilot was refueling and on his way back from the airport when the crash happened.

The crash severed high-tension power lines that fell into the river, delaying rescue efforts for about two hours.

Original article can be found here ➤

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - The Winnebago County Sheriff's Office has identified the man who died in the helicopter crash on Saturday.

Officials say the man is 27-year-old Jonathan D. Bahr from Platteville, Wisconsin.

During the course of the crash, the helicopter hit a power line, causing a live wire to break and go into the water. The crash happened at about 12:30 p.m. near the Wisconsin Street bridge.

Boat traffic along the Fox River was shut down for about nine hours while the helicopter was removed from the river and the power lines repaired.

Wisconsin Public Service communications representative, Matthew Cullen said WPS customers did not experience an outage.

"WPS facilities (power lines, utility poles, etc.) were not involved or damaged during Saturday's incident in Oshkosh. Additionally, WPS customers did not experience an outage as a result of that incident. Our crews are continuing to assist the American Transmission Company (ATC), as the electric facilities involved in Saturday’s incident are owned and operated by them," said Cullen.

The investigation has been turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration.

Officials say several boaters tried to help any victims in the crash, but were unsuccessful.

Action 2 News was there as crews pulled the helicopter from the river just after 7 p.m. Saturday.

One witness said he saw two people in the helicopter taking pictures from above. Another tells Action 2 News that people from a nearby boat jumped into the water to help when it crashed and that it looked like a scene from a movie.

The DNR is on scene, along with the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office, Oshkosh Fire Department and Wisconsin Public Service. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. 

Story and video ➤

OSHKOSH -- One person is dead after a helicopter hit power lines and crashed into the Fox River in Oshkosh Saturday afternoon, June 9. It took hours to recover the body because crews couldn't immediately get in the water.

"It was horrifying to watch," said Brody Snood, witness.

It's not the kind of afternoon Brody Snood ever expected; as he stood watching boats pass on the water, his focus quickly turned to the sky.

"I just heard a really big boom and a splash and after that it was gone," said Snood.

The helicopter crashed into the river around 12:30 p.m.

"I was blank-minded. I was like 'Oh my God, someone just died,'" said Snood.

The active power line snapped from the tall pole and into the water as well.

"It was like a movie scene," Snood said.

Investigators say they were initially hindered by the live wires. Utility crews worked to turn off power so search teams could head into the water.

People stood watching along the riverbank as divers scoped out the area. Hours later, they pulled the wreckage from the water and one body.

"We know that there was one person for sure. So we recovered one person," said Lara Vendola-Messer, Winnebago County Sheriff's Office.

A sad ending to a day witnesses will never forget.

"I don't even know how to explain it because I'm just at a loss for words," said Snood.

The investigation is ongoing. It is now in the hands of the NTSB and FAA.

Story and video ➤

Members of the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department dive team search the Fox River in Oshkosh, Wis., on Saturday, June 9, 2018 where a helicopter crashed.

OSHKOSH, Wis. — A helicopter went down in the Fox River in Oshkosh Saturday afternoon, the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office said.

The helicopter, a Robinson R44, hit a power line on its way into the water which is making the search and response more treacherous, the Sheriff's Office said.

It happened near the Wisconsin Street Bridge at about 12:30 p.m. 

The power was turned off by the Wisconsin Public Service as of 4 p.m. Winnebago County Sheriff's Office said they were putting in divers soon in the water and will be helping the power company reset/restring the power lines across the river.

Assistant Fire Chief John Ziemer, with the city of Oshkosh Fire Department, said fire crews searched the surface of the water to find any debris or people in the helicopter. They did not find anything and stopped the search, due to the high voltage power lines.

Original article can be found here ➤

OSHKOSH – An idyllic summer day turned tragic when a helicopter hit electrical power lines, crashed and sank in the Fox River about 12:30 p.m. near Mahoney's Restaurant and Bar in Oshkosh.

Winnebago County Sheriff's Capt. Lara Vendola-Messer said search efforts were made treacherous by high voltage power lines in the water. Divers had to suspend the search to await specialty equipment being brought in by Wisconsin Public Service.

"Other than it is a helicopter, we don't know where it came from or anything else at this point," she said in an afternoon press conference.

Oshkosh Fire Dept. Assistant Chief John Ziemer said boats did a surface search but did not find anyone in the water. The helicopter was not visible in the river, but witnesses say the crash near the city's downtown was just west of the Jackson Street Bridge.

Ziemer said the sheriff's dive team would commence an underwater search as soon as they get the go ahead 

Winnebago County Sheriff's Office and Oshkosh police boats were scouring the river Saturday afternoon, using hooks to drag for debris. Rescue personnel from Omro and Menasha were also on scene. 

Bystanders gathered Saturday afternoon along the riverwalk near the restaurant and police cleared the perimeter to move people away from possibly dangerous electrical wires. 

Gary Lemiesz, of Oshkosh, said he watched as a dark green helicopter flew east over the river, then turned back and flew west. The helicopter hit the wires and part of the propeller broke off, he said.

“It hit hard and sunk,” Lemiesz said.

He said several private boats converged to search the area, but nothing could be seen.

Randy Mayer lives right on the river and was standing on his dock as the helicopter flew over.

“I didn’t see it crash, but I took a video of the helicopter as it flew straight south over the water,” he said.

The crash occurred on a busy weekend in the city. Increased boat traffic for the Lake Winnebago Four Horsemen Poker Run in Oshkosh had to be rerouted from the area. The event is an annual, high-performance poker run benefiting local charities. 

All boat traffic on the river was halted after the crash.

An announcement was made at Walleye Weekend in Fond du Lac that some participants in the national Mercury Marine Family Fishing Tournament would have to have their catches weighed in Oshkosh, instead of Fond du Lac, due to the crash and their inability to get back to Fond du Lac through the Winnebago system's upper lakes. 

This is the second helicopter crash in Wisconsin this year. Three people died in April when a medical helicopter crashed near Hazelhurst.

Story and video ➤

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