Bell 206B Jet Ranger III, G-BXLI
The pilot had planned to fly with some friends from Staverton Airport, near Gloucester, to a private landing site in the Torbay area but, due to deteriorating weather, landed at Topsham to the south of Exeter Airport. After a period of several hours, the weather had not improved so the pilot decided to return to Staverton. Although on the outbound trip he had routed south via the Bristol Channel and the M5 corridor, an area of low lying terrain, he elected to return to Staverton via Sidmouth, and communicated this to Exeter ATC, advising them that he would be flying at an altitude of 900 ft. As he approached Sidmouth, he then informed Exeter that he was going to go north towards Wellington and Taunton. This route would take the helicopter over the Blackdown Hills, which rise to a height of some 1,000 ft amsl. Witnesses in an area approximately 5 nm south of Taunton generally heard, but did not clearly see, a low flying helicopter and one heard a ‘bang’. A subsequent search and rescue effort failed to locate the helicopter, due to very poor weather conditions, and it was found by a dog walker the following morning. All four occupants had received fatal injuries in the accident. No pre-accident defects were found during the wreckage examination.
Published 10 December 2014