Sunday, July 21, 2019

Robinson R44 Raven II, N144TG: Fatal accident occurred July 15, 2019 at Hayward Executive Airport (KHWD), Alameda County, California

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oakland, California
Robinson Helicopter Company; Torrance, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Hayward, CA
Accident Number: WPR19FA188
Date & Time: 07/15/2019, 1426 PDT
Registration: N144TG
Aircraft: Robinson R44
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

On July 15, 2019, at 1426 Pacific daylight time, a Robinson R-44 II helicopter, N144TG, was substantially damaged during a low altitude maneuver at Hayward Executive Airport (HWD), Hayward, California. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and the student pilot was seriously injured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Pacific Helicopters, LLC under the provision of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated from HWD at 1341.

According to the owner of Pacific Helicopters, Inc, the instructor pilot was a part time employee who had been checked out in the accident helicopter on March 29, 2019. On the day of the accident, following several rounds in the helicopter airport traffic pattern, the instructor pilot and student pilot performed hovering maneuvers on a taxiway designated for helicopter training. Archived Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Control (ATC) audio indicated that the instructor pilot requested to return to the traffic pattern about 1422, but the controller denied the request and asked the accident flight to hold temporarily. Flight tracking data showed that the helicopter continued to hover for several seconds before slowly maneuvering west and then entering a left turn over a patch of hard dirt and vegetation to the southwest of the taxiway. A surveillance video retrieved from an adjacent building that faced northeast captured the helicopter's shadow during its final movements. The shadow of the helicopter entered the camera view from the left with its nose facing west. After momentarily drifting to the left, in a southern direction, the helicopter performed a rapid turn to the southeast. In its final movement, the helicopter made a rapid turn to the north in a high angle of bank on its left side and a cloud of dust was observed before the helicopter shadow disappeared from the camera view.

The helicopter came to rest on its left side, approximately 50 ft from taxiway Zulu at the top of an approximately 3 foot-tall berm. The main wreckage was comprised of most of the major sections of the helicopter and oriented on a heading of 052° magnetic. Several plexiglass fragments were found several feet forward of the cabin beyond the berm. Two ground scars were adjacent to the main wreckage; one ground scar, about 95 inches in length, was about 14 ft from the main wreckage. The other ground scar was collocated with the main wreckage and marked by two 5 inch deep holes, 14 inches in diameter across both holes. The magnetic heading between the two ground scars was 161°. A 95 inch section of the left landing gear skid was located about 14 ft southeast of the main wreckage and a 2 foot-long section of main rotor blade tip came to rest about 250 ft southwest of the main wreckage (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Wreckage Diagram

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Robinson
Registration: N144TG
Model/Series: R44 II
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Pacific Helicopters LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: , 52 ft msl
Observation Time: 1448 PDT
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C / 13°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots / , 270°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.01 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Hayward, CA (HWD)
Destination: Hayward, CA (HWD)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 37.655833, -122.123611

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

Wayne Prodger

HAYWARD (CBS SF) — A flight instructor died and a student suffered serious injuries Monday afternoon when a helicopter crashed at Hayward Executive Airport on Monday, a Hayward city official said.

City of Hayward public information officer Chuck Finnie said the student was taking lessons with the Pacific Helicopters flight school. The student and flight instructor were the only people in the helicopter at the time of the 2:30 p.m. crash, Finnie confirmed.

Hayward Fire officials said the helicopter crashed to the ground upside down on its top rotary blades. The instructor was pronounced dead at the scene by the Hayward Fire Department, Finnie said. He was identified as Wayne Prodger, 62, of Sunnyvale by the Alameda County Medical Examiner.

The two were practicing hovering, according to Hayward Executive Airport manager Doug McNeeley.

“They were hovering at the time. Hovering meaning they were in the air and stationary in one place. That’s one of the basic things you do when you’re learning to fly helicopters,” explained McNeeley.

He said the crash happened suddenly.

“There was no mayday or distress call at all. It happened very fast,” said McNeeley.

The Hayward Fire Department initially confirmed that two people were being transported to an area hospital in serious condition. The condition of the student was still unknown as of 10 p.m. Monday evening.

The FAA confirmed that a Robinson R44 helicopter crashed under unknown circumstances at around 2:30 p.m. on the left side of Runway 28L at Hayward Executive Airport.

Chopper 5 footage of the scene showed a helicopter that appeared to be on its side. Several Hayward police and fire units were on the scene.

Chopper 5 Pilot Kevin Eastman flew over the wreckage. He stores his helicopter at the same airport where the accident happened. Eastman said the chopper landed on the side where Prodger was likely seated.

“I’ve seen a lot of accidents in my time,” Eastman said. “I’ve lost some friends as pilots.”

Eastman has more than 7,000 flight hours and used to own a flight school for more than 15 years, he said. The helicopter the flight instructor and student used was similar to a student driver vehicle — with controls on both sides so the instructor could take control if necessary.

“Something probably happened and he either didn’t take control fast enough because that happens quite a bit or the student may have overpowered him,” he said.

The wreckage is being guarded until a National Transportation Safety Board investigator arrives on scene Tuesday morning. It’s expected to take months before a preliminary report is released on the accident.

Eastman said he had never met the pilot, but was told Prodger was experienced.

“And we never want to hear about anything like this in the industry, because it’s fairly safe usually flying helicopters,” he said. “But it is inherently a dangerous thing to do.”

No one from Pacific Helicopter responded to a request for an interview or comment. The FAA will also be investigating the crash.

Story and video ➤

HAYWARD, California (KTVU) - The National Transportation Safety Board arrived on Tuesday to investigate a Hayward helicopter crash that killed a teacher and sent his student to the hospital. 

Officials still don't know if the teacher, Wayne Prodger, 62, of Sunnyvale, was flying the chopper or whether his student was in control of the aircraft when it crash-landed at the Hayward Executive Airport Monday afternoon. Prodger was the owner of Vertical CFI Helicopters Flight School in Hayward.

The pilot and his student were practicing pattern work in a Robinson R44 Raven II when the rotorcraft crashed for unknown reasons around 2:30 p.m. Monday, said NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson. 

Knudson said the two were talking to the control tower before the crash, but a distress call was never made.

Prodger was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The student was transported to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, but his condition was not known Tuesday.

Friends said that Prodger was an avid traveler, motorcyclist, and a devoted husband and father to his three grown children.

"He was a great person--very knowledgeable and had a passion for what he did," said David Jaimes, a helicopter mechanic who trained with Prodger earlier this year. 

"He loved aviation," said Scott Franges, also a helicopter mechanic who knew the flight instructor. "He loved his motorcycle. You couldn't get through a conversation without hearing about his grandchildren as well. He was a big family man. He was very thorough. He would sit you down and walk you through it and dumb it down as best he could." 

The NTSB is expected to submit a preliminary accident report in about two weeks. Investigators are asking any witness to the crash to come forward. 

Story and video ➤

HAYWARD, California (KTVU) - A Hayward helicopter crash victim who was killed has been identified as Wayne Prodger, 62, of Sunnyvale, according to officials. 

An instructional flight took a turn for the worse Monday afternoon after a helicopter crashed at Hayward Executive Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said. 

Prodger was the owner of Vertical CFI Helicopters Flight School. 

According to the City of Hayward, the pilot and his student were practicing hovering skills in a Robinson R44 Raven II when the rotorcraft crashed for unknown circumstances around 2:30 p.m. 

The instructor was pronounced dead and the student was transported to Eden Hospital where his condition is unknown. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. 

Story and video ➤

HAYWARD, California (KGO) -- One person was killed and another injured after a helicopter crashed at Hayward Executive Airport Monday afternoon. Investigators from the NTSB will be in Hayward on Tuesday.

Scott Matthes heard the crash at the airport.

"I heard a loud bang, I parked over there and saw smoke and a lot of commotion."

The crash happened around 2:30 pm Monday near runway 28 Left, the helicopter flipped upside down. Airport officials say a flight instructor and a student were doing training flights.

"They were practicing hovering unique to helicopters, something happened and the helicopter crashed," said Hayward Airport Manager Doug McNeeley.

A student pilot was injured in the crash, but his flight instructor was killed. The Alameda County Coroner identifies him as Wayne Prodger of Sunnyvale.

Friends of Prodger say he was a longtime instructor at CFI Helicopters Flight School. Many are stunned.

"It's sad, I just ran into him several times today-- the next thing you know, I won't be seeing him-- disturbing," said Balvinder Chadha.

The FAA says Prodger and his student were flying in a Robinson R44 Raven II.

"The Robinson models are popular for flight instruction, considered the gold standard," said McNeeley.

The chopper is owned by Pacific Helicopters, according to the FAA.

What caused the crash is still unknown. The Federal Aviation Administration will also be investigating what went wrong with the training flight.

Story and video ➤

1 comment:

  1. Robinson helicopters all tend to wind up the same way eventually. Very sad.