Two helicopter pilots were flying together and talking over an air-to-air frequency. One of the pilots observed the other (operating as Sky 6) start a descent, which he estimated at a 15 degrees nose-down. The pilot then observed Sky 6′s nose pitch up to about 70 degrees. The helicopter yawed to the left, held there and appeared to be sliding backwards. The nose started to pitch down and the tail boom separated. The helicopter descended and collided with the terrain. Sky 6’s final transmission was “watch this.”
Two helicopter pilots for different local television stations told the NTSB the Sky 6 pilot’s flying was overly aggressive and showy. One cameraman told investigators that two days before the accident he was standing in the main editing area at the TV station when the cameraman involved in the accident stated he would be flying with the pilot. According to this cameraman, the other was concerned about flying with that pilot because he was an overly aggressive pilot. Many pilots and instructors at the airport where Sky 6 was based commented on the pilot’s continuous and extremely ostentatious maneuvering. One instructor stated in an interview that the scuttlebutt around the airport was that the pilot had rolled or inverted Sky 6.
FAA records indicated that the pilot had been found guilty and convicted in federal district court in northern Florida of conspiracy to import and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 220 lb. (100 kg.) of marijuana involving the use of an aircraft, and he was sentenced to federal prison in Atlanta. All previous airman certificates held by the pilot at the time of the conviction were revoked. Prior to the accident, he had received his certificates back.
I was in a college class of about 30 people waiting for the instructor to show up. He arrived about 15 min. late, apologized, and proceeded to tell us about the nightmare drivers that caused his delay. A discussion ensued, with just about everyone in the class adding their experience with bad drivers. The general agreement was that most people are bad drivers. Now I was thinking, based on that, “More than half the people in this class are bad drivers. Yet not one person admitted being the type of driver everyone was complaining about. It was clear to me that people are quick to point out bad behavior in others, but not themselves.
All this makes me wonder at what point is it appropriate for passengers, management or peers who observe dangerous behavior to intervene?