NTSB: Pilot in fatal helicopter crash didn't follow rules

Pilot wasn't certified to fly in low visibility; heavy fog surrounded crash site

  • Brothers David, right, and Josh Jenny shared a passion for helicopters. David was killed Saturday night in a helicopter crash in Pennsylvania.
Brothers David, right, and Josh Jenny shared a passion for helicopters.… (Photo courtesy of the Jenny…)
August 10, 2013|By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun

The pilot involved in a fatal northeastern Pennsylvania helicopter crash that killed five people, including three Marylanders, didn't follow federal regulations when planning and making the flight, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report.

The investigators said the pilot on the trip, which ended in a crash in Noxen, Pa., near Scranton, was not certified to fly using only on-board instruments — a type of advanced certification required when visibility is low.

The pilot also did not file a flight plan with federal officials for the trip, investigators said. Officials could find no record that the pilot obtained a preflight weather briefing before departure.

David E. Jenny Jr., 30, of Towson; Bernard Michael Kelly, 58, of Ellicott City and his daughter, Leanna Mee Kelly, 27, of Savage; Carl Robert Woodland, 29, of Lovettsville, Va., and his son, Noah Robert McKain Woodland, 3, were killed in the July 27 crash.

Investigators did not say who was operating the helicopter. Jenny was the only pilot on board.

The helicopter left Tri-Cities Airport in Endicott, N.Y., about 9:51 p.m. and collided with trees about 10:20 p.m., investigators said. The helicopter, which was headed to Jake Arner Memorial Airport in Lehighton, Pa., was destroyed in the crash.

At about 10:19 p.m., the pilot made contact with air traffic controllers in Wilkes-Barre, telling them it was "inadvertent" that the group was flying in low-visibility conditions and asking for directions to the nearest airport. A minute later, the pilot acknowledged "having trouble maintaining control here."

The helicopter crashed on privately owned wooded land that was leased to an energy company, and there were no known witnesses to the accident, officials said. Authorities began a search, but the area was covered in heavy fog, officials said. The wreckage was found the next day about 1:50 p.m.

The families of those killed in the crash have all declined to speak in detail about the incident.

Jenny moved to Maryland about five years ago. He worked with Fort Meade-based Monumental Helicopters, which provides flight instruction, tours and rides, as well as aerial photography services.



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