Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Robinson R66 Turbine, N7000J: Fatal accident occurred July 19, 2021 in Point Harbor, Currituck County, North Carolina

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Greensboro, North Carolina

Location: Point Harbor, NC
Accident Number: ERA21LA295
Date & Time: July 19, 2021, 18:48 Local
Registration: N4529J
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44 II Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On July 19, 2021, about 1848 eastern daylight time, a Robinson Helicopter R44 II, N4529J, was destroyed when it impacted the Albemarle Sound near Point Harbor, North Carolina. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Review of surveillance video at the Mecklenburg-Brunswick Regional Airport (AVC), South Hill, Virginia, showed that the helicopter landed near the fueling station about 1710. The pilot and passenger conducted refueling activities together. A fuel receipt showed about 32 gallons of 100-low lead aviation gasoline were added. About 1722 the pilot and passenger boarded the helicopter, the engine started, a hover taxi was initiated to runway 19, and the helicopter subsequently departed southbound from runway 19 about 1726.

Review of preliminary Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) track data revealed that data was only available for the first 2 minutes of the flight. The track was consistent with a southbound path from runway 19, and then about 1.5 miles south of AVC, the flight track turned southeast and ended at 1728:52. No further radar or track data was located for the remainder of the flight. According to a witness located on the northwest side of the Albemarle Sound in Hertford, North Carolina, about 1830 she and her husband heard the sound of a low flying small helicopter. She subsequently observed a blue helicopter land in an open field that was about ½ mile from the shoreline. The witness reported that she and her husband drove their car to see if any assistance was needed; however, as they were about 50 ft from the helicopter it took off. 

She reported that the takeoff was quick, it sounded like a normal helicopter, and it flew toward the Albemarle Sound in a southeast direction where it eventually exited out of view over the water. She added that the weather conditions over the water were low overcast clouds; it was misty, and you could not see the land across the Sound, which would be visible during a “nice day.”

According to the United States Coast Guard incident commander, about 1940 they were notified about an overdue helicopter destined for Dare County Regional Airport (MQI), Manteo, North Carolina. A search was initiated over the Albemarle Sound based upon the last known position of cell phone data from pilot and passenger. The day after the accident, fragments of the helicopter were located floating on the surface of the Sound near 36.029491°, -75.991991° which was consistent with the general area of the cell phone position data. The pilot and passenger were found deceased and were recovered. Figure 1 shows the cell phone position data from 1816 to the final reported position at 1848. In addition, the figure shows the location of the off airport landing and takeoff and the general debris area.

Review of weather radar data imagery about the time of the accident over the debris area revealed areas of widespread light to heavy precipitation.

As of this publication, only fragments of the helicopter that were floating on the surface of the water have been located. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N4529J
Model/Series: R44 II NO SERIES 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Unknown
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MQI,14 ft msl 
Observation Time: 18:55 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 16 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C /22°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 3200 ft AGL 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots / , 70°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3200 ft AGL
Visibility: 3 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.01 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Mecklenburg, VA (AVC)
Destination: Manteo, NC (MQI)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 36.029491,-75.991991 (est)
Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

MANTEO, North Carolina  (WNCT) — The bodies of the two Franklin County men who were in the helicopter crash in the Albemarle Sound earlier this week were found on Thursday.

The Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office posted on its Facebook page that responders recovered the body of John Arant, 35 of Glade Hill, Virginia, and his brother, Alan Arant 36, also of Glade Hill, Virginia. Alan Arant was the pilot of the aircraft.

Both men were reported missing after their Robinson R44 helicopter crashed in the Alligator River near Manteo. Wreckage of the plane was first found Monday around 9:10 p.m., which led to Coast Guard and other agencies searching for the two men.

The two men in the aircraft departed from Mecklenburg Brunswick Regional Airport in Brodnax, Virginia, around 6:40 p.m. on Monday and were heading to the Dare County Regional Airport the same evening.

Over 38 hours during the search, the Coast Guard said agencies that assisted covered 3,303 miles. The cause of the crash has not been determined.

The Coast Guard-led search included the following assets and agencies: 

A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City
A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City
A 29-foot Response Boat-Small boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Elizabeth City
N.C. Marine Patrol
N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission
Tyrell County Sheriff’s Department
Tyrell County Emergency Management
Tyrell County Fire Department
Washington County Emergency Management 
Craven County Emergency Management
Hertford County Emergency Management
N.C. State Highway Patrol
Sydney Fire Department
Tow Boat U.S. Oregon Inlet

Tyrrell County Sheriff

On 7/19/2021, the Dare County Emergency Communications was notified of an overdue helicopter flight from Virginia to Manteo.  The two men in the aircraft departed from Mecklenburg Brunswick Regional Airport in Virginia and planned to land at the Dare County Regional Airport the same evening.

Emergency responders were notified after a concerned friend lost communication with the two people aboard a Robinson R44 helicopter at 6:40 p.m., Monday. A multi-agency search was initiated and debris from the helicopter was discovered during the course of the search at the mouth of the Alligator River.

On Thursday 7/22/2021, the unified command of the United States Coast Guard, Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Wildlife, and the North Carolina Marine Patrol, and the US Fish & Wildlife, along with North Carolina Emergency Management was notified that one of the occupants from the aircraft was located in the Albemarle sound.  Responders recovered the body of John Arant, 35 of Virginia. Shortly afterwards, located the body of his brother, Alan Arant 36, of Virginia, who was the pilot of the aircraft.

The Tyrrell County Sheriff’s office, as well as the Tyrrell County Emergency Management Office sends it’s most sincerest condolences to the Arant family during this painful time.

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