Sunday, November 4, 2018

Bell 206B-3 JetRanger III, registered to and operated by W T Byler Company Inc, N417WT: Fatal accident occurred November 04, 2018 in Uvalde, Texas

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Antonio, Texas
Federal Aviation Administration Rotorcraft Standards; Fort Worth, Texas
Bell Helicopters; Fort Worth, Texas
Rolls-Royce Corporation; Indianapolis, Indiana

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

NTSB investigator-in-charge Craig Hatch speaks during a briefing held November 5th at the Uvalde County Office of Emergency Management.

Location: Uvalde, TX
Accident Number: CEN19FA024
Date & Time: 11/04/2018, 0001 CST
Registration: N417WT
Aircraft: Bell 206
Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On November 4, 2018, about 0001 central standard time, a Bell 206B helicopter, N417WT, impacted terrain near Uvalde, Texas. The airline transport rated pilot and two passengers were fatally injured, and the helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to and operated by W T Byler company, Inc. as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal fight. The flight departed a private ranch about 2345 en route to San Antonio.

The Uvalde County Sheriff's Office was notified of a possible downed aircraft northwest of Uvalde, Texas. A search effort of authorities and local volunteers found the wreckage about daybreak.

The helicopter had collided with the side of a 1,450 ft hill, located about 5 miles east of the ranch the helicopter had departed from, and about 71 miles west of the San Antonio International airport.

The NTSB Investigator-in-Charge (IIC) along with technical representatives from the airframe and engine manufacturers inspected the wreckage on site. The helicopter impacted the hill about 100 ft from the apex, a wreckage path estimated about 75-100 yds long ran along the hill to the main wreckage. First responders had attached ropes to the wreckage, to keep it from rolling down the steep hillside. The hillside also prevented a detailed examination of the wreckage on site.

After documentation of the accident site, the helicopter was transported to a salvage facility for a detailed examination at a later date.

At 0015, the automated weather observation facility located at the Garner Field Airport, Uvalde, Texas, located about 13 miles southeast of the accident site, recorded: wind at 030 degrees at 6 knots, 10 miles visibility, a clear sky, a temperature of 63 ?F, dew point 61 ?F, and an altimeter setting of 29.97. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bell
Registration: N417WT
Model/Series: 206 B
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator:  W T Byler Co Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KUVA
Observation Time: 0515 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 13 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 16°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 30°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.97 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Private Ranch, TX
Destination: San Antonio, TX (SAT)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 29.368056, -99.923889 (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

Gerald Green Lawrence

Mr. & Mrs. Byler

UVALDE, Texas — A newlywed couple died when the helicopter they were flying hours after their wedding crashed in the rugged terrain of southwest Texas. The 76-year-old pilot, Gerald Douglas Lawrence, was also killed. Federal transportation authorities said he was "very experienced" and it's too early to determine a cause of the accident.

William Troy Byler and Bailee Raye Ackerman Byler, both 24, were killed in the crash shortly after midnight Sunday about 10 miles northwest of Uvalde, said Steven Kennedy, justice of the peace for Uvalde County Precinct 1.

Craig Hatch, an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said they will attempt to conduct a thorough initial examination of the wreck. However, the helicopter is located in a "precarious" spot on a side of a hill, a few miles from State Road 55, CBS affiliate KENS-TV reports.

"Because of how it's laid out on the side of the hill, we're not really able to go into the helicopter," Hatch said, adding that debris was scattered over about 100 yards.

KENS-TV points out NTSB investigators usually document and examine a crash site as much as they can before altering anything, similar to a crime scene. However, Hatch said it's almost impossible to do in a way where NTSB members don't "come tumbling down the side of the hill as well."

"We definitely saw a helicopter in a terrible state," said Rachel Kellner, a Texas Game Warden. Kellner was one of the first responders on the scene and said there was little they could do without any daylight.

The newlyweds were seniors at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, according to The Houstonian, the university's student newspaper. They married Saturday night at a large Byler family ranch near Uvalde and left aboard a Byler family helicopter after the reception, Kennedy said.

Lawrence had been a pilot for the family for years and had flown helicopters in Vietnam during his combat service, Kennedy said. An autopsy has been ordered on the pilot to determine if a physical condition might have been a factor in the crash, he said.

Hatch said Lawrence was "very experienced (and) highly qualified," adding he believed he had logged about 24,000 hours.

The cause of the crash hasn't been determined, but Hatch said a preliminary NTSB report will be issued in about two weeks. KENS-TV said it's also too early to tell if weather played any substantial role in the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤

KENS 5 obtained brand new video of a bride and groom getting onto a helicopter on their way to their honeymoon. It's also the last time friends and family would see them alive.

The Texas couple's fairy-tale wedding ended in unbelievable tragedy on Sunday. Their chopper crashed north of Uvalde about 80 miles West of San Antonio.

Jacob Martinez filmed the video. He worked the couple's wedding and helped with their send-off. He recorded the final moments loved ones saw of Will and Bailee Byler.

"We sent them off with something that they will remember," he said. "It chokes me up because I saw them get in the helicopter, which seemed to be fine."

They took off just after midnight, and minutes after leaving their close family and friends, the chopper crashed. The college sweethearts were killed, along with 76-year-old pilot Gerald Green Lawrence. Friends of the family said he was a captain in the U.S. Army and a veteran of the Vietnam War. NTSB Air Safety Investigator Craig Hatch said Lawrence was an experienced pilot.

The helicopter crashed in rugged terrain near the ranch where the couple got married earlier Saturday.

"How it is laid out in the side of the hill, we are not able to go into the helicopter or the motor, or the engine because it is on the hill," Hatch said.

NTSB investigators are looking at several factors, including the pilot's history, the background of the chopper, and weather conditions. The next step is to recover it and do a detailed inspection.

"I can't put into words how you go from a happy ending to a tragedy," Martinez said.

The couple's friend's said they were due to graduate next month from Sam Houston State University. The NTSB's preliminary report won't be complete until at least another two weeks. Investigators say it is too early to tell what went wrong.

Original article can be found here ➤

UVALDE, Texas (KTRK) -- A couple who were just married for an hour and a half were killed Saturday night when their helicopter went down in Uvalde, Texas.

The groom's grandfather William Byler confirmed to Eyewitness News that the aircraft went down Saturday at their family ranch. His grandson Will Byler, Will's new wife Bailee Ackerman and the aircraft's pilot, Gerald Green Lawrence all died in the crash.

Eyewitness News spoke to Lawrence's stepdaughter, Amilyn Willard, who said he was a captain in the army and fought in Vietnam.

The National Transportation Safety Board in investigating the accident involving a Bell 206B helicopter. The accident happened about 15 miles northwest of Uvalde, according to NTSB's information.

The couple's wedding portal on planning website The Knot further confirmed their nuptials taking place on Nov. 3 in Uvalde on Byler's family ranch. Engagement photos also show Byler in his cowboy hat embracing Ackerman.

The Sam Houston State University students were surrounded by family and friends as they flew off in the family helicopter.

Original article can be found here ➤

UVALDE, Texas - A newlywed couple leaving their wedding ceremony in a helicopter died early Sunday morning when the helicopter crashed, according to a report from the Houstonian.

Will Byler, his wife, Bailee Ackerman Byler, and their pilot died in the crash, according to the Houstonian, the student newspaper for Sam Houston State University.

The newspaper reported that the Bylers were both in their senior year at the university.

Eric Smith, a friend of the Ackerman family, posted to Facebook early Sunday morning that the couple and the helicopter pilot had died in the crash after the ceremony.

Jacob Martinez, an individual working the event shared video of the moment the couple took off in the helicopter.

The Uvalde County Sheriff's Office said it received a call from an aviation monitoring center about a possible downed aircraft in northwest Uvalde around midnight. 

Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, game wardens, Border Patrol agents, the Uvalde Volunteer Fire Department and Uvalde Emergency Medical Services arrived in the area of Chalk Bluff Park off of Highway 55 to help search for the helicopter.

Authorities located the crashed helicopter around daybreak, the Sheriff's Office said.

The San Antonio Fire Department deployed 10 members of its Technical Rescue Team to assist the Federal Aviation Administration with the investigation, but they returned to San Antonio Sunday night.

National Transportation Safety Board said in a tweet Sunday morning that the helicopter involved is a Bell 206B.

Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board said they would not release any information about the crash until Monday. 

Original article can be found here ➤

"It is with deepest sadness that we announce the tragic passing of two Bearkats Will Byler (Agriculture Engineering senior) and Bailee Ackerman Byler (Agricultural Communication senior) in a helicopter accident departing their wedding. We ask that you keep the Byler and Ackerman families in your thoughts and prayers."  -The Houstonian 

ORANGE — A newlywed couple leaving their wedding ceremony in a helicopter died when their helicopter crashed, according to a report from the Houstonian.

Will Byler, his wife, Bailee Ackerman Byler, and their pilot died in the crash, according to the Houstonian, the student newspaper for Sam Houston State University.

Multiple sources have confirmed with 12News that Bailee Ackerman Byler was from Orangefield.

The newspaper reported that the Bylers were both in their senior year at the university.

The crash happened 80 miles west of San Antonio around midnight.

The Uvalde County Sheriff's office says the helicopter crashed near Chalk Bluff Park off Highway 55.

A twitter post from the National Transportation Safety Board says it was a Bell 206-B two bladed twin engine chopper that crashed.

There is no confirmation on how many people were killed in the crash and the cause of the accident.

We will not release the names of the victims until officials or family members have confirmed more information.

From a Uvalde County Sheriffs' Office news release...

At approx. 12 midnight on Saturday (11/3/18), Uvalde Police Communications received a call from an aviation monitoring center of a possible down aircraft in the area of Northwest Uvalde County.

After further investigation, Uvalde Co. Sheriff’s Office Deputies received coordinates of a possible more direct location of the aircraft in distress.

TX DPS Troopers, Game Wardens, Border Patrol, Uvalde Vol. Fire Dept, and Uvalde EMS arrived in the vicinity of Chalk Bluff Park off HWY 55 to assist with the search.

Upon break of day, the accident location was found and the Texas Dept. of Public Safety and the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the scene.

Original article can be found here ➤


Anonymous said...

Heartbreaking. Prayers to family and friends.

Anonymous said...

Sad. Helis are just plain dangerous. No matter the experience or proficiency just too little room for error if a critical component fails amid all the vibrations and stringent tolerances. And I see a lot of these fatal crashes now happening with botched autorotations or just too little time to make for one i.e Leicester crash that killed that billionaire.
Electric quads or tricopters transporting people with a gazillion redundant blades and power sources are the only way forward. Not to mention ultra fast adapatative AI to make the craft react in a split second and correct itself during a failure, plus those designs can also have BRS parachutes.

Jim B said...

Agreed, one of the saddest reports I/we have ever read.

Anonymous said...

I saw the video of the take off.
I got the impression that the pilot did not seem to be proficient/comfortable flying NVFR.
My condolences...

Anonymous said...

What a sad story. Those two beautiful, young people will now be together for eternity in God's wonderful kingdom. One of the saddest stories I've read on this site and I've been reading it everyday for four years now. RIP

Anonymous said...

Looks like CFIT - Very similar to Stevie Ray Vaughn's crash, except in VFR.

Anonymous said...

no one by that name comes up on the FAA airman registry

Anonymous said...

Seems a lot of these (older) pilots don't know how to use foreflight or avare. If truly it is cfit then mindboggling a simple mobile application using a phone's gps would have averted this mess.
It is up there with the guy crashing flying partial panel whereas most vfr gps offer the six pack.

Anonymous said...

SRV accident referred to above

Jim Cates said...

Bright lighting would have reduced pilots night one point in the pedal turn, the entire cockpit is illuminated by the flood lights. Cant help but think this may have been a factor.

Anonymous said...

^ I agree. A few of the high power LED flood lights, on ground at their takeoff site, appears to be similar to what we use for emergency equipment to assist in locating downed aircraft. Distracting for a pilot and not safe at all. And, what's up with the fireworks display in very close proximity to the helicopter simultaneously with the pilot doing start-up procedures.... shaking my head.

Anonymous said...

Gerald Douglas Lawrence

Jim said...

@anonymous,who said: "no one by that name comes up on the FAA airman registry"

There is a Gerald Douglas Lawrence who appears to be the accident pilot. His ratings are impressive including a Flight Instructor Instrument Helicopter. But while he has an ATP Rotorcraft Helicopter, his type rating on the BH-222 has a limit of (VFR ONLY).

Anonymous said...

If safety really was the pilots main concern he should have asked himself if he is still up to this job at the age of 76.

Anonymous said...

Altitude and Airspeed...had one. Too dark up there?

Anonymous said...

Although I respect the military and people who give it to all to the country, maybe the pilot's ADM was deficient especially regarding IMSAFE. Like the bodyguard of princess Diana was also a military and didn't do anything seeing a drunk driver take the wheel, here someone trained by the military to only take orders and perform might have had an issue saying no and refusing to takeoff, even when feeling insecure about it.

Anonymous said...

"If safety really was the pilots main concern he should have asked himself if he is still up to this job at the age of 76."

It's so hard admitting when it's quitting time. With the pilot shortage expect to see more of this.

Anonymous said...

I am 76, high time commercial and I stopped long ago and also sold my motorcycle. Danger to myself and others. Nice relaxed life now.

Jim said...

Bob Hoover flew well past age 76 but he did notice his 8 point roll was getting sloppy at age 77 so He stopped his airshows.

Anonymous said...

That ranch will not have a helicopter for corporate use for a while.
What's wrong with a simple limo to transport the newlyweds to san antonio?

D Naumann said...

simple limos crash and kill people too! what's your point?

Anonymous said...

"simple limos crash and kill people too! what's your point?"

Night conditions. The guy has 24000 hrs so more or less 1/4th the way to a statistical death (Between 2005 and 2009, there was an annual average of 1.44 fatalities per 100,000 flying hours in nonmilitary helicopters) and wasn't rated IFR for a type similar to the one he was flying. Bright lights. IMSAFE issues including getherithis due to event pressure.

Unlike for fixed wings more than 1/2 of helicopter deadly crashes are associated with a mechanical failure of some kind (I believe it is less than 5% for fixed wings).

Look up the Leicester crash. NVFR. Mechanical problem. 5 dead. And it was a high end multimillion $$$ machine.

Yes limos crash in spectacular events too but commercial limo drivers still need to be pros. And a mechanical failure would have way less impact and more chances of non lethal injures. Most helicopter problems always lead to fatalities.

Plus the honeymoon location was 100 miles away, not 1000 miles away. A heli would have save how much time? 15 min.

Anonymous said...

He was VFR only in a BH222 which is a more complex helicopter than the 206. Besides I didn't see mention of IMC conditions along the flight path. When flying at night especially in sparsely lit areas, you have to fly by instruments. With todays technology of glass cockpits and moving map GPS how do you not stay above the terrain unless you encounter a mechanical malfunction?

Anonymous said...

If you watch the video closely it appears to me the tail rotor was over the fence and very near a small tree as they turned for takeoff. Once he started climbing it appears to me he came very close to another tree (look how bright and focused the light is on one of the trees) and you can see a small clump of tree twig fly away just as he passed over the tree. Almost looks like the rotor could have clipped the very top of the tree.

Also the last several seconds of the video it appears to me he is flying slightly sideways (yawed to the right) instead of straight.

Anonymous said...

I am ATP & Instrument Rotor, my family owned a Part 135 operation with a Bell 206. I did my training in my 20's and was still a lot of work, fun.....but a bit of work. We never flew night trips because my father wouldn't allow trips only in our Jetranger. Imagine your sleep state /circadian rhythm situation on a midnight trip, plus being 76. It all adds up to a very risky trip profile, unless you fly with 2 pilots and an autopilot. The Bell 206 is a really stable, wonderful ship to fly, but 100 miles at midnight in a hand flown B206 is more difficult than you think. RIP.