Friday, September 17, 2021

Robinson R66 Turbine, N888DV: Fatal accident occurred September 15, 2021 in Monticello, Jasper County, Georgia

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 Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia
Rolls Royce; Indianapolis, Indiana 
Robinson Helicopters; California 

Monarch Helicopters Inc
Location: Monticello, Georgia
Accident Number: ERA21FA362
Date and Time: September 15, 2021, 22:00 Local 
Registration: N888DV
Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air taxi and commuter - Non-scheduled

On September 15, 2021, at 2046 eastern daylight time, a Robinson R66, N888DV, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Monticello, Georgia. The flight instructor, commercial pilot, and one passenger sustained fatal injuries. The passenger flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135.

According to a company representative, the purpose of the chartered flight was to transport the passenger to southern Georgia and northern Florida for personal business. A family member of the passenger confirmed that the passenger had chartered the helicopter to “look at properties” in the area and was supposed to return later that evening. The trip originated at Fulton County Executive Airport/Charlie Brown Field (FTY) Atlanta, Georgia, about 0700 and proceeded south, making a stop in Reidsville, Georgia before continuing to Finlayson Farm Airport (9FL8) Greenville, Florida. The helicopter stopped there for several hours before beginning the return trip. No flight plan was filed for the flight.

During the return trip, they landed at Thomasville Regional Airport (TVI) Thomasville, Georgia, where the pilots requested fuel and the helicopter was topped off (76 gallons capacity) with 40 gallons of fuel. Preliminary Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS-B) data indicated the flight departed TVI at 1840, then proceeded on a northerly track for about 80 nautical miles near the town of Andersonville, Georgia. At 1937, the passenger’s family member sent a text message to him asking when he would be arriving. He responded with a photograph taken with his mobile device and stated “Approx [2130], bad storm pop up had to land in field. It’s blowing over now.” The photograph showed a grass field, gray skies, and rain on the helicopter window.

The ADS-B data showed that after departing the field to the west, the helicopter proceeded north and followed a power transmission line right-of-way for about 4 nm before reversing course and following the same right-of-way south for about 3 nm. The helicopter then turned left on a southeast track for about 15 nm before making a left turn to the north where they made an approach and brief landing at Perry-Houston County Airport (PXE), Perry, Georgia about 2015. 

After resuming the flight, the helicopter passed 4 nm west of Macon, Georgia, then passed about 2 nm east of a large powerplant before entering the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, a remote area covered with dense forest. About 2043, the helicopter made a series of shallow left and right track changes before entering a rapid descending right turn. The ADS-B signal was lost at 2046, with the helicopter at a reported altitude of 925 ft msl (or about 300 feet agl), and with the helicopter located about 400-ft laterally from the accident site. Witnesses south of the accident site reporting hearing a low flying helicopter about the time of the last observed ADS-B position and described that it was raining at that time.

At 2047, a base reflectivity National Weather Service weather radar image covering the area of the accident site, depicted echoes of 20 to 37 dBZ along the helicopter’s flight track, and in the vicinity of the accident site. Additionally, an isolated cell with maximum echo intensity of 53 dBZ was located about 4 nm west of the accident at that time. The echo was moving northward at a velocity of around 15 knots. No lightning was depicted with the echo or within 25 nm of the accident site between 2000 and 2100. The echoes were associated with light to moderate rain at the surface, with the strong intensity echoes associated with heavy rain.

The helicopter impacted trees and terrain at an elevation of 601 ft. The wreckage path was oriented on a magnetic heading of 145° and was about 150 ft in length. The trees at the initial impact point were about 75 ft to 100 ft-tall and displayed broken limbs and branches near the tops. Several consecutive trees contained vertically-oriented branch removal and the bark was scraped from a tree about 30 feet prior to a 2-foot deep by 6-foot-wide crater. Figure 1 shows the highly fragmented wreckage and debris path, consistent with a high-energy impact. All major components of the helicopter were located within the area. Smaller debris was widely scattered along the debris field in a fan-like pattern.

A 24-inch tip of one main rotor blade was found about 75 ft west from the main wreckage. The main rotor blades were impact-damaged but remained attached to the hub at their respective positions. The cockpit and cabin were severely damaged by impact forces and post-crash fire.

The flight control system was severely damaged by fire and impact forces and continuity was traced through breaks and the control tubes that could be identified. There was no evidence of pre-impact failures or malfunctions to the control system.

The engine remained within the general wreckage of the engine bay and had been exposed to a post-crash fire. The engine exhaust cowling was crushed tightly around the engine. Hand rotation of the compressor was smooth but did not result in rotation of the N1 drivetrain.

Removal and examination of the compressor revealed signatures of engine operation during impact. The fuel spray nozzles exhibited normal carbon coating. All turbine blades were intact and exhibited no evidence of leading-edge impact or thermal distress. Examination of the combustion chamber and gas generator turbine revealed no damage or anomalies. The accessory gearbox revealed no preimpact damage or anomaly. The engine controls were damaged by impact forces but revealed no other damage or anomaly; the control arms remained attached and moved freely. There was no evidence of inflight engine fire, failure, or malfunction prior to impact. 

Examination of the recovered airframe, flight control system components, transmission, rotor system and engine revealed no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N888DV
Model/Series: R66 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand air taxi (135)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: IMC
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: 6A2,959 ft msl 
Observation Time: 20:35 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 26 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 20°C /20°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 50°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 300 ft AGL 
Visibility: 7 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Thomasville, GA (TVI)
Destination: Atlanta, GA (FTY)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 33.176346,-83.769253 

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.

Aaron McCarter
Investigator In Charge 
National Transportation Safety Board

Carson McElheney
December 12, 1980 ~ September 15, 2021 (age 40)

Carson McElheney entered into eternal rest on September 15, 2021.  

Born on December 12, 1980, a lifelong resident of Atlanta, Carson was the epitome of the distinguished Southern gentleman; he exhibited refinement, strength, and honor in all that he did and with everyone he encountered.  Carson was a loving husband, devoted father, son, brother, uncle, and friend, who had a true passion for nature and appreciated the beauty of God’s earth. His love for the outdoors and his tenacious work ethic were inspired by his grandfather.

Carson was a passionate and skilled hunter, which he incorporated into his life’s work of landscape architecture. As the founder and principal of Carson McElheney Landscape Architecture, he built a successful business that brought his vision of preserving classical, natural landscapes to fruition. Carson established himself as one of the leading minds in landscape architecture, not only in Atlanta but nationally as well, as evidenced by his work being honored with two Philip T. Shutze awards, the highest recognition in architecture.  

Carson was especially drawn to the beauty of Sweetwater Farm, the beloved family farm in Thomson, Georgia, that was also the childhood home of his wife, Susan Joy.  Carson and his family spent nearly every weekend and each summer at Sweetwater, enjoying the unique beauty of its rolling hills and taking comfort in the peace those surroundings brought them.  It was here Carson instilled in his children an affinity for the elegance of nature, an enduring appreciation of its boundless grandeur, and an intrinsic understanding as to the importance of its preservation. This legacy, like the beauty of the work that he created, is alive, and will live on forever.

Carson was a graduate of Woodward Academy and the University of Georgia.  He was a member of the Piedmont Driving Club and attended The Cathedral of St. Philip.

There was nothing more important to Carson than his family.  He is survived by his loving wife, Susan Joy Dallas McElheney; his daughter, Mary Brooks McElheney, his son, Carson McElheney; father, Terrell McEleheny and mother, Carol McElheney; sister, Claire McElheney; several nieces and nephews, and countless friends.  Carson was preceded in death by his grandfathers and grandmother, Doug McElheney and Helen and Hall Goode.

A service in his honor will be held on Saturday, September 25, 2021 at 4:00 pm at Sweetwater Farm in Thomson, Georgia.  There will be no visitation prior to the service.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art – Southeast Chapter; 575 Pharr Road NE #12124; Atlanta, GA 30355 (404-348-3244); Belle Meade Hunt Foundation; P.O. Box 60; Thomson, GA 30824; or the Wrightsboro Quaker Community Foundation Inc.; P.O. Box 1816; Thomson, GA 30824.

Please visit to sign the family’s personal guestbook.  Beggs Funeral Home, Thomson, Georgia is honored to serve the family of Carson McElheney.

Charles Ogilvie

Charles Ogilvie, 46, died Wednesday, September 15 in a tragic aviation accident. Born in San Francisco, California, Charles attended University High School and then St. Mark's School, earned his bachelor's degree from University of Southern California, and earned his master's degree from USC's Marshall School of Business. Charles had two early passions -- one was for a burgeoning economy in the Asia Pacific Region and the other was for aviation. Following business school, he worked for start-up airline Virgin America, where he designed all of the in-flight entertainment systems. After meeting his wife, they moved to Asia where he worked for Panasonic in their in-flight department. After almost a decade abroad, they returned to the States where Charles took a position as a resident entrepreneur at Wunderman Thompson in Atlanta.

Charles was one of a kind. He was creative, smart, and entrepreneurial. He was an amazing, devoted husband and father who deeply loved and valued his family, and he was a loyal friend to many. Charles cherished family time, taking his boys on bike rides, to watch the planes at the airport, and to soccer games. He is survived by his wife, Stephy, and their children, Christopher and Peter, of Atlanta; his parents, Ann Mcdonald of Boston and Andrew Ogilvie of San Francisco; his siblings, Sarah Ogilvie Saint-Amand, Peter Ogilvie and Austin Ogilvie, of New York. Because of Covid19, the memorial service will be private. Charles will be interred at Mount Hope Cemetery in Bangor, ME.

Alister Pereira

Alister Pereira, 42, Charles Ogilvie, 46, and Carson McElheney, 40, all of the metro-Atlanta area were killed when the helicopter they were in crashed in the Oconee National Forest south of Monticello last Wednesday night.

Jasper County first responders were dispatched at 9:10 p.m. to an address on Smith Mill Road. The call originated from the Air Force Special Information Center. However, the helicopter was an older helicopter with older technology, and the helicopter was not at that address. Rescue workers continued for about three hours, when many were sent home to return at daylight.

Fire/rescue crews searched the area around Smith Mill Road, while deputies were searching the area off Juliette Road where another ping had originated. The rescuers took a break about 2 a.m. to return to town for fuel and pick up some drinks and snacks. Then they got word that the wreck was closer to Juliette Road.

They were tracking phone signals as well as signals from the helicopter. Finally, Thursday nearing mid-day the rescuers received coordinates off Juliette Road that panned out. They had searched the area with all-terrain vehicles and on foot and finally reached the wreckage. By that time family members had gathered, and all rescue workers were involved in the search.

Emergency Services Director Chris Finch said the dense forest, heavy rain and fog hindered the search and rescue effort. He said he sought the services of a Georgia State Patrol helicopter, but it was unable to fly because of the weather. They were waiting on the ceiling to clear Thursday and were about ready to fly when the wreckage was found.

Aaron McCarter with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) gave a press conference on Friday at Enon Baptist Church. The crash site was not far from there, about a half mile down a dirt road, then ¾ mile off in the woods. He said he and his associates will attempt to find the probable cause for the wreck to help prevent future tragedies. He said the Robinson R-66 helicopter departed Thomasville about 6 p.m. The flight conditions were less than ideal, with low clouds, low visibility and rain showers, he said.

Mr. McCarter said he would spend about three days at the crash site gathering facts. He said they would look at the man the machine and the environment. That means, he said, they would look at the pilots (two of the three were pilots), the helicopter itself, and the weather and surroundings. He said that is a small part of the process, and much more takes place as headquarters in Ashburn, Va.

Mr. McCarter said they knew of no stops the chopper had made between Thomasville and the crash site, and as of last Friday they did not know where they were headed. He said the helicopter had a northerly heading, and make a shallow right turn before impacting the trees. It was overcast and rainy. He said it was finally found by the Emergency Locator Transmitter coordinates. The transmitter is designed to go off on impact.

Sheriff Donnie Pope said the search was frustrating as the wreckage was so difficult to locate. There was little fire, so they did not have that to guide them. The terrain was extremely difficult, he said. As many as 50 people were involved in the search. It was like looking for a needle in the haystack.

The helicopter was taken to a hangar in Griffin where it will be studied in an attempt to determine what happened. Mr. McCarter said his agency would have a preliminary report in a week or two.


  1. The company's Nashville tour helicopter N827DV was destroyed while parked at Thune airport in the 2020 weather event, now this tragedy. Condolences to all.

    1. I believe they had sold it already, registration had not updated

    2. BKT why do you think they sold it?


    “”McCarter called it a "high energy impact" crash. The wreckage pathway is about 125 feet long, and the wreckage scene goes through the trees. "It's a very difficult terrain to get to," he said. The crash site was discovered around 12:45 p.m. Thursday.

    The NTSB investigates every civilian aviation accident to learn how each accident happened, with the goal of preventing future fatal incidents.

    Three factors being investigated in this crash are the pilots' skills and actions, the technical aspects of the aircraft, and environmental conditions such as the weather.

    When the helicopter went down, there were low clouds, low visibility, and rain throughout the region.””

    Scud running? VFR into IMC? To many of these accidents, truly tragic.

  3. The crash was at night. The original FAA AIN time of 16:43:00Z does not match the 8:43PM/20:43 EDT time of the final ADS-B data points south of Monticello. EDT is UTC-4, so someone apparently erred and subtracted 4 hours from EDT while composing the original AIN.

    Area radar image from 8:44PM EDT Sept 15:

    ADS-B Tracks:
    Note: The weather image overlay shown in Flightaware is from 7:40PM EDT, which is one hour before the crash.

    Mapped last ADS-B position from Flightware track log:

    Photo of wreckage:

    The S/N 1000 R66 accident aircraft was constructed in 2020. R66 helicopters ordered after February 2021 have cockpit cameras as standard equipment.

  4. It seems that this brand of helicopters have a lot of accidents.

    1. All rotor aircraft have a higher probability of a mechanical mishap over fixed wing aircraft simply due to the amount of moving parts and vibrations that fixed wings don't have. One $.45 loose cotter pin in a chopper can bring it down (and has). You won't see that in a Cessna crash report.

      That said, Robinsons are the most popular helicopter out there flying over say the classic tried and true Bell 206 most are more familiar with in news choppers and movie making. Here in metro Atlanta for example on the ADSBEX tracker site, on any given time of day, there will be about 2.5x more Robinsons flying over all other rotorcraft makes combined. So of course Robinsons will show up more on accident reports just based on statistics alone. One can make the same case for Cirrus as well regarding fixed wing.

  5. "The FAA says the helicopter left Thomasville in south Georgia Wednesday and was heading northwest when it started to have trouble.

    "During that flight towards the accident scene, there were low clouds and visibility and rain showers in the area at the time," Aaron McCarter with the National Transportation Safety Board said.

    At Friday's news conference, McCarter called it a "high-energy" crash, and said the copter crashed about 125 feet though the trees before stopping, 'Indicating that there was some ford velocity and speed associated with the accident.'

    Friday evening, the FAA released the names of the three victims.

    They are pilot Alister Pereira, age 42, pilot Charles Ogilvie, age 46, and Carson McElheney, age 40. They are all from Atlanta."
    13wmaz news


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