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$1.2 Million Helicopter Settlement

$1.2 Million Helicopter Settlement

What: Midwestern Air Services LLC, Robinson R44 II, Raven, four-place, two-bladed, single main rotor, single-engine helicopter en route from Horseshoe Casino Heliport to Kenosha Regional Airport
Where: Kenosha, Wisconsin
When: September 21, 2008
Who: pilot Alan Sapko and passenger Joan Anzalone
Why: The National Transportation Safety Board ruled pilot error. A judge ruled that the pilot’s estate will pay the heirs of Joan Anzalone 1.2 million.

The report of the crash states that the helicopter:
“… was destroyed when it impacted an occupied house and terrain near Kenosha, Wisconsin. A ground fire subsequently occurred. The personal flight was operating under 14 CFR Part 91. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was on file. The private pilot and a passenger were fatally injured. The five occupants in the house were uninjured. The flight originated from the Horseshoe Casino Heliport (2IG3), near Whiting, Indiana, about 0507, and was destined for the Kenosha Regional Airport (ENW), near Kenosha, Wisconsin, when the accident occurred.

According to information provided by Horseshoe Casino, the pilot landed at 1907 on September 20, 2008. The pilot and passenger had dinner, they observed a concert, and gambled. The pilot had a glass of wine with his dinner about 1930. About 0139 on September 21, 2008, a beverage confirmed to be a Captain Morgan’s and diet Coke in a short glass was given to the pilot. About 0146, another Captain Morgan’s and diet Coke in a tall glass was given to the pilot. About 0213, the pilot set the first glass down empty. About 0423, the pilot took a drink from the second drink glass. The glass was about half full. The pilot gambled until about 0449 and then he and his passenger departed for 2IG3. The pilot and passenger departed from 2IG3 about 0507.

A Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper who was outside the weight facility on Interstate 94 at the Illinois and Wisconsin State Line about six miles south of the accident site heard a helicopter heading north at a “very low altitude” and estimated it at 500 feet. He did not see the helicopter or its lights due to the “dense fog.” He stated that the visibility there was about 300 to 500 feet.

A witness who lived near the accident site gave a statement to the Kenosha Police Department. The witness stated that a low flying helicopter was heard. It circled once then went away and came back. The witness saw an orange flash through the window and heard a “boom.” The witness said the helicopter sounded “really low” and the “engine sounded like it was at low RPMs.”

A witness from the occupied house on the northwest corner of 97th Avenue and 70th Street that was impacted by the helicopter gave a statement to the police department. The witness, in part, reported:

My family and I were fast asleep in our residence when I heard and
felt a loud bang like thunder, and then a cloud of debris came
[through] our bedroom door. My wife and I were in the southeast
bedroom. Our two sons were in the northeast bedroom and our
daughter was the bedroom over the garage. We got our kids and
[with] the help of our neighbors made it down the stairs and outside.
None of us were injured. I saw the flames across the street and one
of our neighbors told me a helicopter hit our house.

The pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) private pilot certificate. He held a FAA third-class medical certificate issued on April 3, 2006, with no limitations. At the time of that medical, he reported 60 hours total flight time to date and 30 hours in the six months prior to that examination. The pilot’s logbook indicated that the pilot had accumulated 329 hours of total flight time. The pilot recorded 37.25 hours of night flight time.

A certified flight instructor (CFI) that instructed the accident pilot indicated that two previous CFIs had instructed the accident pilot and had endorsed the accident pilot for solo flight training operations. According to the CFI, the two previous CFIs believed that the accident pilot was flying in violation of his solo privileges and the CFIs removed the accident pilot’s solo endorsement. The CFI stated that he had no problems with the accident pilot’s training and solo activities.

The accident pilot’s medical certificate and student pilot certificate had a solo endorsement with “revoked” written across it.”

No one in the house was injured.

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