Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Robinson R44 Clipper, registered to United Helicopter Leasing LLC and operated by Novictor Aviation LLC as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 air tour flight, N808NV: Fatal accident occurred April 29, 2019 in Kailua, Hawaii

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Honolulu, Hawaii
Robinson Helicopters; Torrance, California
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 
Novictor Aviation LLC; Honolulu, Hawaii

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


Location: Kailua, HI
Accident Number: WPR19FA123
Date & Time: 04/29/2019, 0910 HST
Registration: N808NV
Aircraft: ROBINSON R44
Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled - Sightseeing 

On April 29, 2019, about 0910 Hawaii-Aleutian standard time (HST), a Robinson R-44 Helicopter, N808NV, impacted terrain in a residential neighborhood while maneuvering near Kailua, Hawaii. The commercial pilot and two passengers were fatally injured, and the helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to United Helicopter Leasing, LLC, and operated by Novictor Aviation, LLC, as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 air tour flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a company VFR flight plan was opened. The flight originated from the Daniel K Inouye International Airport (HNL), Honolulu, Hawaii about 0854.

Witnesses reported that they heard the helicopter overhead but didn't look until they heard an odd noise followed by a loud metallic bang. They subsequently observed the helicopter in a nose low attitude descending rapidly; none of the rotor blades were moving and the helicopter appeared to be descending vertically with little forward motion. Witnesses reported observing pieces falling from the helicopter which included: a piece of the main rotor blade, plexiglass, pieces of airframe, and a fuel tank. The helicopter impacted the street and a post-crash fire ensued.

The 0857 automated weather observation at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Air Station (PHNG), located about 3 miles north of the accident site, included wind from 30o at 8 knots, visibility 4 statute miles, broken clouds at 1,800 and 2,800 ft agl, overcast clouds at 3,900 ft agl, light rain, temperature 24oC, dewpoint 20oC, and an altimeter setting of 29.99 inches of mercury.

The helicopter has been recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: ROBINSON
Registration: N808NV
Model/Series: R44
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Novictor Aviation LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Commuter Air Carrier (135)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PHNG, 23 ft msl
Observation Time: 0857 HST
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 20°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 30°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 1800 ft agl
Visibility:  4 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.99 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Honolulu, HI (HNL)
Destination: Honolulu, HI (HNL)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 21.403333, -157.764444 (est)

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

Family released this image of Jan Burgess amid their grieving, saying family members back in Australia are coming together to mourn the loss of the beloved mother, grandparent and friend.

Ryan McAuliffe

Joseph Gilbert Edward Berridge of Garfield, NM was a blessing that entered this world on January 19, 1991 in Las Cruces, NM. 

Joseph “Brother Bear” was guided towards the light into the Heavens on April 29, 2019 at the age of 28.  He was raised in a family full of unconditional love. After graduating from Hatch Valley High School and attending New Mexico State University he moved to Albuquerque with his fiancĂ©, Chelsea, to pursue one of his many dreams of becoming a helicopter pilot.  After achieving this dream, he went on to instruct other pilots while flying for a news station.  

In early April of this year Joseph took a job offer in Hawaii to be a helicopter pilot tour guide. Joseph had a passion for doing many things and being a pilot in Hawaii was just one of them.  Brother was the heart, soul, and backbone of the Hatch Valley.  He brought joy wherever he went. You would never catch him without his trademark smile, it was almost as big as his heart.  Joseph was an extraordinary young man that lit up everyone’s world; emitting a light of love to those around him… He truly was a gift from God. His ultimate dream was to travel the world with Chelsea and provide endlessly for his loved ones. 

Joseph was an inspiration to all, always striving to be the best at anything he did and proving that anything can be done if you set your mind to it. Needless to say, he was a Professional Bad Ass. Whether friend, family, or stranger, Joseph treated everyone with love. Brother was a handsome and fearless young man with a kind, loving soul who was full of courage and full of heart.  He loved his friends with the same passion as he did his family. 

Joseph brought more good to this world than he took. He was loved and will continue to be loved by all who knew him. Joseph lives on through the memories within his parents, Bobby and Terry Berridge (Gutierrez), fiancĂ©, Chelsea Fancher, sister, Alexandria Sheffield (Berridge) and brother-in-law, Lindsey Sheffield, aunts and uncles from both the Gutierrez and Berridge families, grandparents, and countless cousins and friends. Please join us as we say our goodbyes to brother Jojo and our farewell wishes to his new life in heaven.  Visitation for family and friends will take place at Kirikos Family Funeral Home located at 303 N. Cedar Street in T. or C., NM on Friday, May 10, 2019 from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M.  On Saturday, May 11, 2019, the services will take place at 10:00 A.M. in the pecan orchard located on the corner of Railroad Road and Browning Road in Hatch, NM then proceeding to Hatch Garden of Memories Cemetery.  A gathering will be held at 6800 North Hwy 187 in Garfield, NM following the services.  The family would like if everyone could wear royal blue. Joseph is a Forever Eagle.  


The Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office this morning released the identity of the third person killed in a Kailua helicopter crash.

She has been identified as Jan Burgess, 76, of Australia.

The names of the other two victims, released by the office on Tuesday, were Joseph G. Berridge, 28, and Ryan McAuliffe, 28, of Chicago, Illinois.  Berridge had just moved to Honolulu from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to fly tour helicopters, his father said.

McAuliffe and Burgess were the two female passengers on board the Robinson R44 operated by Novictor Helicopters.

At about 9:15 a.m. on Monday, their helicopter crashed on Oneawa Street in Kailua, killing everyone on board, and scattered debris throughout several blocks of the residential neighborhood. The cause of death for all three was “multiple blunt force injuries due to helicopter crash.” No other injuries were reported.

Staff from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were at the site throughout Tuesday conducting an on-site investigation. On Tuesday evening, crews removed the helicopter wreckage with a crane and flatbed truck. City officials reported the section of Oneawa Street by Kalolina Street, which had been closed during the on-site investigation, had reopened as of 7:21 p.m. Tuesday.

NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said, generally, the on-scene investigation lasts several days, with a preliminary report issued within two weeks. The preliminary report will list the facts discovered during the on-scene investigation, but will not address the cause of the accident.

Today, the NTSB investigators are examining the airframe and engine at a facility and meeting with the operator, Novictor Helicopters. The helicopter took off at about 8:54 a.m. from Honolulu in good weather, said Weiss, and crashed at about 9:15 a.m. Witnesses observed the helicopter with a low nose, descending rapidly, with none of the rotor blades moving before it fell straight down.

The full report, with probable cause, typically takes between 12 to 24 months.


Joseph Berridge

Fabian Salazar,  Air Safety Investigator 
National Transportation Safety Board

Joseph Berridge

KAILUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Federal and local authorities are teaming up to figure out how a tour helicopter spun out of control and crashed nose-first on a busy Kailua roadway, bursting into flames and killing three people.

Oneawa Street remained closed on Tuesday morning, almost a day after the crash, where investigators continued to examine the wreckage and debris that were still scattered across the roadway.

“We’ll be focusing our investigation on this particular aircraft and as we discover or uncover trends or commonalities, we will give those discoveries their due diligence,” said Fabian Salazar, air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

Salazar, one of four NTSB investigators who arrived in Hawaii on Tuesday morning, said they’ll be looking at several factors, including the wreckage itself, the pilot and environmental factors.

Meanwhile, family members were mourning those lost in the crash.

Family members identified the pilot as 28-year-old Joseph Berridge. His grandmother told Hawaii News Now that he loved to fly ― and that he’d move to Hawaii just 20 days ago.

Two female passengers were also killed in the crash. They have not yet been identified, but the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii said one of those killed was from Australia.

The crash on Oneawa Street about 9 a.m. produced a shocking scene for drivers and nearby residents, who rushed to the site in the slim hope that someone on board had survived.

“A Marine officer in a flight suit came running up. He was the first there and started trying to unbuckle the seat belt,” said Evan Strouse. “Me and him started dragging him out.”

Strouse said he and the Marine managed to pull one from the burning aircraft.

“I want to think that the pilot tried to hit the road because it’s crazy that this helicopter landed in the road and avoided all the other houses around it,” Strouse said.

Bystanders aimed their garden hoses at the fire to try to put out the blaze.

“Neighbors were doing a heroic effort trying to put out the fire and also trying to get the patients away from the burning aircraft,” said Shayne Enright, spokeswoman for the city Emergency Services Department. She confirmed all three victims were pronounced dead at the scene.

Witness Tehani Alo said she saw the helicopter spinning out of control before it came crashing down.

“It sounded like hell landing,” she said.

Another resident described the crash this way: “Horrible.”

The Robinson R44 Clipper was owned by tour company Novictor Helicopters. In a statement, the company said it’s working closely with the FAA and NTSB on the investigation.

“This accident is heartbreaking for everyone, especially the families and friends of the passengers and pilot, who was part of our Novictor family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of them,” the company said. “The safety and welfare of our personnel and passengers are our top priority.”

Witness Adrian Kozuki, who lives nearby, said he was in his backyard when the crash happened.

“I heard the helicopter in the air and all of a sudden I heard a pop, like a blast kind of thing,” he said. Then, within 15 seconds, he said he could see smoke coming out.

The crash sent debris onto nearby homes, properties and cars across at least eight separate properties.

At least one vehicle was significantly damaged when a fuel tank landed on its hood. One homeowner retrieved a cell phone from a rooftop. Another found a shoe in their backyard.

Mike Cunningham was driving when he saw the chopper crash about 20 feet in front of him.

He said the helicopter came down “very hard, nose first.”

“I saw the wires shaking, and right after that the wires broke and a helicopter came crashing through the trees,” Cunningham said, adding that as soon as it hit the ground, it was already on fire.

“I don’t see how anybody could’ve walked away from it,” Cunningham said. “It was in flames immediately. And you couldn’t get close to it.”

Lisa Dow lives about two blocks from where the chopper came down, and said she heard the helicopter in the air and then the sound of the crash.

She said the chopper “pretty much disintegrated” on impact.

“It’s horrible,” she said. “The blessing is that nobody on the ground got hit.”

Added witness Vanessa Solomon: “The saddest part was knowing that there were people falling out of the sky. It was hard to see that."

Police Lt. Wayne Wong said it’s remarkable that no one on the ground was injured when the helicopter came down. “Oneawa is a busy street, especially in the morning hours,” he said.

“People going to work. People going to school. It could have impacted a bigger part of the community.”

Melissa Solomon was driving down Oneawa Street with her daughter when the helicopter came down about 70 feet ahead of their car.

She says her instinct was to get her daughter away from danger and to call 911 as nearby residents rushed to the scene to see what happened ―and to try to help.

“I said, ‘oh my God, I don’t know what to do,’” she said.

The noise of the crash shook Ikona Kaapana’s house.

“When it was falling, it wasn’t on fire,” he said. “It was all black and there was no propellers and it was on it’s side when it was falling. We heard it land and it just went up in smoke."

Honolulu police have shut down all lanes of Oneawa Street near Kalolina Street as authorities investigate, and they anticipate the thoroughfare will remain shut down through Tuesday.

Novictor was involved in a separate helicopter crash in October.

In that incident, a Robinson R-44 crashed just off the Kaneohe sand bar after the pilot reportedly had a medical emergency and passed out. A couple visiting from Chicago was seriously injured in the crash.

The chopper crash is also the second this month.

Earlier in April, a helicopter went down near Sacred Falls after an apparent engine failure.

The Paradise Helicopters aircraft was contracted by the state Land Department, and crashed into trees before hitting the ground.

In that incident, all four people on board the helicopter refused transport to the hospital.

Story and video ➤ https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Family members said the 28-year-old pilot killed Monday in a helicopter crash in Kailua had moved to the islands just 20 days ago.

They identified the pilot as Joseph Berridge, and said he loved to fly.

His grandmother said he’d accepted a job with Novictor Helicopters from New Mexico.

Meanwhile, the Visitor Aloha Society said one of the two passengers in the downed craft was from Australia. The third passenger was visiting from the mainland.

Details on those killed in the crash come as the investigation into what caused the helicopter to come down continue. NTSB investigators are examining the wreckage, which has not yet been moved from the scene on Oneawa Street.

The chopper crashed on the busy Kailua street about 9 a.m. Monday, and all three victims were pronounced dead at the scene.

A tour helicopter careened through a crowded Kailua neighborhood before nose-diving onto Oneawa Street shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, igniting on impact and killing all three people on board.

The helicopter spun out of control in the rain and shed parts over several blocks of the neighborhood, scattering metal, plastic and other debris including a cellphone as it plunged to the ground. But no injuries to bystanders were reported.

“I was on my back porch on the phone, and I heard what sounded like a very sick helicopter very near my home,” said Susan Peterson, who lives on Kaiemi Street. “As I stepped out I heard a big pop, and I looked; right then there’s a rotor blade going one way and a helicopter the other way.”

“I’m all ‘Where do I run?’ because they were still up pretty high,” she said. “But as I’m thinking, ‘Where do I run?’ they just go down, boom.”

The maroon aircraft, a four-seat Robinson R44 operated by Novictor Helicopters, crashed in front of 745 Oneawa St., near Nowela Place.

Sommer Birkett, a beautician, had a clear view of the accident unfolding from her second-floor living room in an alley off Oneawa Street, right where the helicopter went down.

“It sounded like a missile hit a plane,” Birkett said. “I heard this loud sshhhh- boom! I was like, ‘What the hell is that?’ I looked out the window, and I saw the helicopter nose-dive onto Oneawa Street.”

“There were no flames or anything when it fell — that happened after it plummeted,” Birkett said. “Something happened with the helicopter; something went wrong with it where it stopped working.”

“I feel like it was on a movie screen, right in front of my eyes,” she said. “I cannot believe what I saw. It’s unreal.”

Emergency Medical Services was responding to another call in the area when workers heard a horrific bang, according to Shayne Enright, spokeswoman for the city Department of Emergency Services.

“They turned around and saw the helicopter on fire,” Enright said. “When they got there, neighbors were doing a heroic job trying to put out the fire and also trying to get the patients away from the burning aircraft. EMS assisted, got two of the patients from the burning aircraft, but at that time the two were deceased.”

Honolulu Police Lt. Wayne Wong said the department received multiple calls about the crashed helicopter at 9:12 a.m.

“It fell directly on the roadway,” Wong said. “It may have clipped some power lines in the area.”

“Oneawa is a very busy street, especially during the morning hours,” Wong added. “People going to work, people going to school. It could have impacted a bigger part of the community. So we’re just fortunate that it (was) … isolated to that one area.”

Stephen P. Lum said he heard an rotorcraft hovering overhead and then the sound of objects banging against the wall of his home at 535-A Olomana St.

“The items that struck the wall was like a baseball hitting the wall,” he said.

He walked out to his backyard and found pieces of metal strewn on the grass and a dial that resembled a clock from a dashboard. There were also a pair of designer glasses. Across the fence at the adjacent Kailua Racquet Club, he spotted a mirror and a cellphone.

Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Scot Seguirant said firefighters responded to a call at 9:13 a.m. and arrived on the scene at 9:18 a.m. to find neighbors fighting the fire with garden hoses. Firefighters took over, brought it under control by 9:23 a.m. and extinguished it at 9:40 a.m.

The helicopter, whose tail number was N808NV, was operated by Novictor Helicopters, which is run by Nicole Vandelaar, who founded it in 2011. A woman who answered the phone at Novictor on Monday declined to comment, saying, “At this time we cannot release any information.”

Novictor advertises Oahu tours starting at $180 for Pearl Harbor to Diamond Head and going up to $315 for a full island tour, according to its website.

Two FAA inspectors were dispatched to the crash site, Gregor said. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, with NTSB the lead agency.

State Rep. Cynthia Thielen, who represents the area, said tour helicopters should not have been flying in the neighborhood.

“My heart goes out to the victims of this horrific helicopter crash in Kailua,” she said in a statement. “This happened in our residential area, where the only helicopters flying should be emergency, military and police-related — not tourism-related or commercial helicopters that kill and endanger occupants and people on the ground.”

She called for grounding all tour helicopters “until the authorities have assessed this situation.”

The FAA registry shows that the helicopter that crashed is owned by United Helicopter Leasing LLC, which shares the same Kapalulu Place address as Novictor Helicopters and Novictor Aviation LLC. It was manufactured in 2000.

Novictor was also the operator of a Robinson R44 helicopter that crashed onto the Kaneohe Bay sandbar on Oct. 22. A preliminary report from the NTSB on that crash said the pilot reported losing consciousness and that one of the passengers grabbed the controls to slow its descent.

Megan Lacy, a visitor from Alabama, heard a big crash Monday morning and went to the driveway near the corner of Oneawa and Kalolina streets only to find the front end of her rental car smashed by a helicopter part.

“At first I thought it sounded like a big old car accident,” Lacy said. “I looked left and saw the car like that, and then we see smoke coming up, so we walk over there to see what’s going on. … We found the fuel tank right over there, from the helicopter.”

A piece of debris from the aircraft also struck the car of one motorist driving on Oneawa Street, but she was not hurt, Enright said.

The Kailua Racquet Club was littered with pieces of glass and metal on the courts and grassy areas, according to Bruce Nagel, general manager.

“The debris was considerable,” Nagel said. “It looked like some parts from the helicopter — pieces of aluminum. There was actually a cellphone on the property. There was mostly Plexiglas all around the property.”

“Thankfully it was raining at the time so tennis players were under cover,” he wrote in an email to members, informing them that the club shut down Monday after the crash for the FAA to investigate the debris.

Police advised anyone who finds items that might be debris from the helicopter not to pick them up, but to call 911 so an officer can respond.

The Rev. Ricky Bermudez, a Keolu Hills resident whose family lives in the neighborhood where the chopper went down, said he has been advocating for a no-fly zone around the community. He said he called Novictor several times to complain, but the manager never returned his calls. He described the Robinson R44 as “the cheapest helicopter you can buy.”

Story and video ➤ https://www.staradvertiser.com

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