Thursday, August 12, 2021

Robinson R44 Raven II, N4043B: Accident occurred August 11, 2021 near Chicago Executive Airport (KPWK), Wheeling, Cook County, Illinois

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 did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; DuPage, Illinois

Crown Point Helicopter LLC

Location: Wheeling, Illinois 
Accident Number: CEN21LA369
Date and Time: August 11, 2021, 06:40 Local
Registration: N4043B
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On August 11, 2021, about 0640 central daylight time, a Robinson R44 helicopter, N4043B, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near the Chicago Executive Airport (PWK), Wheeling, Illinois. The pilot received minor injuries. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to the pilot, the day before the accident flight, he had flown the helicopter from his private helipad in Morton Grove, Illinois, to several airports in central Wisconsin, returning that same day. Upon returning, the winds were strong and gusty, and the pilot did not feel comfortable landing at his private helipad, so instead landed at PWK. He left the helicopter there overnight, instructing ramp personnel to fill the fuel tanks prior to his return the following day.

On the day of the accident, the pilot arrived at PWK and planned to fly the helicopter from PWK to his private helipad. He reported that after takeoff, when the helicopter was about 200 ft. above ground level, at 40 knots airspeed, he noticed the RPM decreasing and then heard the low RPM warning. He then saw the RPM increase “above the governor” followed by a decrease and the low RPM warning again activated. He said that he then heard sounds from the engine “like detonations”. He then placed the helicopter into an autorotation and selected a road to land on. During the landing the helicopter’s main rotor blades struck a pole and the helicopter flipped onto its right side resulting in substantial damage. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N4043B
Model/Series: R44 II
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KPWK, 646 ft msl 
Observation Time: 09:23 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C /24°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 1800 ft AGL 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 14 knots / 23 knots, 210°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 2500 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.84 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Wheeling, IL 
Destination: Morton Grove, IL

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor 
Latitude, Longitude: 42.114279,-87.901541 

 Pilot Ovideau Ostalus

 Pilot Ovideau Ostalus

WHEELING, Illinois  (WLS) -- A helicopter crashed in Prospect Heights near the Chicago Executive Airport Wednesday morning.

The crash occurred on Milwaukee Avenue near Apple Drive south of Palatine Road.

Prospect Heights police said they received a call about the crash at about 6:40 a.m. Police said the pilot and sole occupant remained on the scene as authorities arrived.

"It was very scary to see it over there. I think he did a great job I guess getting in the street and not hurting anyone else. I think it's very lucky all and all," said onlooker Carol Maloney.

The helicopter sitting on its side in the middle of Milwaukee Avenue drew a crowd of onlookers. Most were relieved to learn the pilot was the only one on board and he's survived without major injury.

In fact, Ovideau Ostalus suffered a dislocated shoulder and cuts on his leg, but is otherwise feeling good.

"I have a God up there who was watching over me," Ostalus said. "I'm lucky and pretty good trained as well."

Ostalus got his pilot's license earlier this year. And the Robinson R44 Raven is a brand new 2021 model. Due to storms in the area, he decided to land at Chicago Executive Airport Tuesday night rather than try to land at his company's helipad in Morton Grove.

He checked it Wednesday morning before takeoff and it was fine. But once he was in the air, the engine started revving and then shut down.

"I started looking for a spot, 'cause I was only 300 feet off the ground," Ostalus said.

He found a spot on Milwaukee Avenue, making sure he was clear of any cars on the ground.

"I was looking to make sure people are safe," he explained.

But once on the ground, he said a rotor hit a pole and pushed the chopper onto its side. Crews used a crane to pull it onto a flatbed truck.

"It looked horrific," onlooker James Ledlow said. "You never wanna see a helicopter on its side on the road like that."

Crews brought the helicopter to a hangar at the airport, which was closed for a short time but resumed normal operations later Wednesday morning. The FAA will take a closer look as they investigate what caused the engine to fail.


  1. Another Robinson bites it.
    Low time pilot, brand new helicopter.
    It will be interesting to see the cause on this one.
    Low time pilot. Pilot error seems plausible to me.

  2. I’ve only accumulated 40 hours in R44s, after a long Army career flying Apaches and Blackhawks. R44 I flew was sound, I never had a remote glitch. But like any aircraft, you must follow the factory checklists and preflight to the letter. It’s my guess, some of the Robinson R series crashes have origins to checklists. Airplanes are low on the scale of forgiving our mistakes, helicopters offer very little forgiveness.
    Take it from a guy that’s flown these things for 28 years, 18,000 hours. Follow the checklists, then follow them again.

  3. I might add, his insurance must have been astronomical. Hope he had it, this bird is going to cost a fortune to fix. My last student bought a R44, had 140 hours training in type, 85 additional in R22s. Did the factory program plus Instrument rated in a rented R22. His insurance was still $18000 a year.