Accident Robinson R44 G-WMCN, Tuesday 24 November 1998
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Date:Tuesday 24 November 1998
Type:Silhouette image of generic R44 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Robinson R44
Owner/operator:Heli Air Ltd
Registration: G-WMCN
MSN: 0320
Year of manufacture:1997
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Stoke Hammond, near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Destination airport:Denham, Buckinghamshire (EGLD)
Investigating agency: AAIB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Written off (damaged beyond repair) 24 November 1998 when crashed at Stoke Hammond, near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, after the pilot became disorientated, due to increasing darkness and deteriorating weather conditions. According to the following extract from the official AAIB report into the accident:

"The flight to Milton Keynes was uneventful and conducted in reasonable weather conditions. At about 16:50 hours, while the pilot was completing the after-start checks prior to departure from Milton Keynes for Denham, the passenger in the rear seat observed that the rain had started to fall, it was increasing in intensity and it was dark. He remarked that the weather did not look very good for flying.

The pilot agreed but said that he did not think that it would be a problem and the helicopter took off at 17:00 hours. The pilot stated that the visibility appeared to be very good and that he had climbed on track to about 1,000 feet above Milton Keynes. The passenger in the rear seat stated that the helicopter's height was 700 to 800 feet and that, after a short time at that height with an estimated visibility of two to three miles, the pilot asked the passenger in the front seat to hold a map and hand-held Global Positioning system (GPS) for him so that he could see them easily.

The pilot switched on an interior light so as to study the map. After a short time, the passenger holding the map and GPS looked up and exclaimed 'What's going on ?'. The rear seat passenger then looked up and saw the ground coming up towards them. The pilot is reported to have then exclaimed 'What!' and attempted to level the helicopter before it struck the ground and broke up.

The pilot stated that while in the cruise, he lost visual contact with the lights on the ground and assumed that he had entered a patch of low cloud. He attempted to fly by reference to the flight instruments whilst lowering the collective lever and commencing a descent of about 200 feet/min.

At 600 feet, while still in cloud, he decided to reverse his course and reduce his airspeed from 100 knots to 60 knots. As he started to turn, the helicopter hit a tree and crashed into a field where it was severely disrupted by the impact. Analysis of the data contained in the pilot's GPS receiver, which was recovered from the accident site, indicated that the helicopter had been flying at a steady airspeed of about 100 knots for one minute until the speed reduced to 80 knots in the 90 seconds before impact.

During this reduction in airspeed, the helicopter had turned gently 30° to the left. It crashed on a heading of 131 degrees (M). No height information was available from the GPS".

The AAIB report notes that the helicopter sustained "extensive" damage. These were presumably enough to render the aircraft as "damaged beyond economic repair", as the registration G-WMCN was cancelled by the CAA on 18 February 1999 as "destroyed"

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: AAIB
Report number: 
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report


1. AAIB:
2. CAA: http://publicapps.caa.cocatid=1&pagetype=65&appid=1&mode=reg&fullregmark=WMCN

Revision history:

28-Mar-2015 13:07 Dr. John Smith Added
28-Mar-2015 13:08 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
29-Jun-2016 19:47 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Source, Narrative]
29-Jun-2016 19:48 Dr.John Smith Updated [Cn, Phase]

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