The NTSB has issued the preliminary report on the August 12th crash of a Virginia State Police Bell 407 helicopter in Charlottesville, VA. The accident, which killed officer-pilots H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Berke Bates, took place while the helicopter was re-routing from providing video footage of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville to escort the Virginia Governor’s motorcade. Lieutenant Cullen was ATP rated. Trooper-Pilot Bates had his private pilot certificate.
Though the investigation is ongoing, the NTSB report states that “no evidence was observed to suggest that the helicopter was struck by another aircraft, animal or object.” Evidence includes footage from a University of Virginia security camera that “shows the helicopter spinning in a nose down pitch attitude before it descended into trees” and interviews with 37 witnesses. All of the main helicopter components were recovered and the wreckage will stay with the NTSB for further examination. The examination has been complicated by the fact that many of the retrieved components were damaged by the post-impact fire and impact with trees and terrain.