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Helicopter was operating under special
flight rules when it crashed

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Posted By: earlybird, 1/27/2020 11:32:57 AM

The helicopter that crashed yesterday in Calabasas, California, was operating under “Special Visual Flight Rules,” according to an air traffic control audio conversation with the pilot, captured by website What that means: A SVFR, Special Visual Flight Rules, clearance is given to pilots to allow them to fly in weather conditions worse than those allowed for standard Visual Flight Rules (VFR). The Burbank Airport control tower allowed the helicopter to proceed northeast following the I-5 highway using the SVFR clearance. “Maintain special VFR at or below 2,500” the pilot confirmed to the controller. Later in the flight, the pilot apparently asked for “flight following,” a service where controllers


Burbank flight controller told the pilot he was too low for flight following...

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Reply 1 - Posted by: Lazyman 1/27/2020 11:42:49 AM (No. 299537)
Well it was some sort of an emergency flight; they were headed for basketball practice.
4 people like this.

Reply 2 - Posted by: john56 1/27/2020 11:54:39 AM (No. 299541)
Sad, sad result, but it sounds like the JFK Jr. rules of flying -- I gotta get there, weather or time of day or pilot competency doesn't matter. Years ago, I had a doctor friend of mine tells me how doctors have one of the highest fatality rates as private pilots. They want to go somewhere on their days off and if the weather ain't cooperating, well, darn it, I'm going. And since they don't fly that often, they get caught in something they can't control. And then, it's time to meet your maker. The question is how many others you take with you on the trip. All that said, my condolences to all who passed away and their surviving families.
11 people like this.

Reply 3 - Posted by: LWGII 1/27/2020 11:58:15 AM (No. 299542)
SVFR has been around forever. The pilot needs 1 miles visibility and to remain clear of clouds. The controller has no way of knowing what the pilot sees. The controller cannot offer SVFR, the pilot must request it. Sorry, pilot error.
13 people like this.

Reply 4 - Posted by: Dodge Boy 1/27/2020 12:07:17 PM (No. 299546)
Becoming more doubtful of mechanical failure. Judging by the difficult flight path the pilot had taken, he should not have been flying. Starting to sound like he flew it right into the ground. We'll see.
6 people like this.

Reply 5 - Posted by: BigGeorgeTX 1/27/2020 12:12:17 PM (No. 299554)
Why do people riding on small aircraft insist on flying during bad weather? History is replete with celebrities dying because they felt invulnerable.
10 people like this.

Reply 6 - Posted by: lakerman1 1/27/2020 12:20:18 PM (No. 299562)
During ground school, our instructor warned us about 'get home itis' which causes some pilots to take unacceptable risks in bad weather, to reach their destination. As far as the helicopter crash, the debris field indicates to me that the pilot, fogged in, may have flown it into the ground. And this is pure speculation, but it is entirely possible that his passengers were telling him to go ahead - that they had to get to the basketball venue. And he listened to them.
6 people like this.

Reply 7 - Posted by: Vaquero45 1/27/2020 12:41:33 PM (No. 299579)
When a pilot requests Special VFR, here’s what he’s really saying: “I need help! I’m up here and I can’t see the ground; I don’t have an instrument rating. Pleeeeease let me fly real close to the ground and try to find the airport and hope I don’t get socked in by these clouds that I knew were gonna be there when I decided to take off.” The investigation will show that Kobe Bryant should have hired a better pilot.
6 people like this.

Reply 8 - Posted by: nordlander 1/27/2020 12:48:32 PM (No. 299583)
Legendary concert promoter Bill Graham and Jeffsrson Starship singer Grace Slick died in a similar helicopter accident in the 1980s, flying home in the fog after a concert. The pilot said he could see the high voltage power lines adjacent to the highway and he would follow them ... but he forgot about the two 190 ft. towers where the lines crossed a river, and flew into one of them.
3 people like this.

Reply 9 - Posted by: Vesicant 1/27/2020 12:48:51 PM (No. 299584)
The 5 freeway doesn't go near Calabasas. At some point the pilot would have had to get permission to turn west and follow the 101. Did that happen?
2 people like this.

Reply 10 - Posted by: LeeBertie 1/27/2020 12:50:54 PM (No. 299585)
SVFR should not be expressly offered by Air Traffic Control. It must be requested by the Pilot in Command. According to FAR 91.157, Special VFR may be conducted between sunrise and sunset when in conditions are below basic VFR (1000'/3mi) but 1 SM flight visibility and clear of clouds can be maintained to safely get to an airport.
3 people like this.

Reply 11 - Posted by: Mushroom 1/27/2020 12:57:15 PM (No. 299590)
SVFR is interesting in that area because out here in the flats in the Class C near me it's not authorized. We don't have any hills to run into. Why would they in that area? (Assuming he was in C/B airspace.) And flight following at that altitude? In hills? Wow!
2 people like this.

Reply 12 - Posted by: Historybuff 1/27/2020 1:03:07 PM (No. 299597)
"Special" flight rules? What, the JFK Jr. flight rules?
3 people like this.

Reply 13 - Posted by: Historybuff 1/27/2020 1:04:41 PM (No. 299600)
# 8, Gracie Slick is alive and well. Stevie Ray Vaughn who was on that flight with Bill Graham, not so much.
5 people like this.

Reply 14 - Posted by: Mushroom 1/27/2020 1:10:25 PM (No. 299607)
Sorry #13, Bill Graham and Stevie were two different incidents.
3 people like this.

Reply 15 - Posted by: Rivetjoint 1/27/2020 1:32:15 PM (No. 299621)
There's an old axiom in aviation that it's better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than being in the air wishing you were on the ground.
10 people like this.

Reply 16 - Posted by: Rama41 1/27/2020 1:44:02 PM (No. 299631)
It will be interesting to read the NTSB's final report. I hope they discuss the unique challenge to pilots for the rich and famous who accept no excuse for not getting to where they want to go. That has always placed special pressures on pilots who otherwise would choose not to fly.
3 people like this.

Reply 17 - Posted by: mathman 1/27/2020 2:00:01 PM (No. 299641)
Thus the crash is a true tragedy. Could have been avoided by not making the flight. It is too late now. The Rich and Famous get no exemption from the laws of nature (i.e., don't run into the ground).
3 people like this.

Reply 18 - Posted by: sterling431 1/27/2020 2:29:51 PM (No. 299675)
No doubt it was wrong to fly under the foggy conditions. However, this mistake was compounded by flying at normal cruise speed of around 155-160MPH. His speed did not allow the the pilot any margin to react to and prevent a crash. From the looks of crash site, the chopper likely impacted the hill a few seconds after the pilot saw it. Passengers likely never knew what happened.
4 people like this.

Reply 19 - Posted by: DVC 1/27/2020 3:03:31 PM (No. 299708)
VFR flight in the mountains is suicidal. You could fly into a mountain. And if you insist on this risky flying, slow the heck down, something helos can do. 160 knots, about 185 mph, is way too fast in poor visibility in the mountains. It's called "get there-itis", an often fatal disease in VFR flying. Sad story.
3 people like this.

Reply 20 - Posted by: ROLFNader 1/27/2020 3:20:03 PM (No. 299722)
Guess I'll quit feeling sorry for myself for having to settle for Uber when weather or other conditions won't allow the use of my car.
0 people like this.

Reply 21 - Posted by: Historybuff 1/27/2020 4:57:04 PM (No. 299805)
Point taken Mushroom. # 14 Helicopters don't fly. They beat the air into submission. And Gracie Slick is still alive.
0 people like this.

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