Louth pilot died in helicopter crash after battling high winds

Matthew Chapman. EMN-160906-114413001
Matthew Chapman. EMN-160906-114413001
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A helicopter pilot from the Louth area died of multiple injuries after his aircraft crashed in the Isle of Man last summer.

Matthew Chapman, 48, had dropped off two passengers near the TT Festival course on June 6 last year, and was heading to the Ronaldsway airport to refuel the Bell Jet Ranger aircraft when he became caught up in high winds.

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch published today, June 9, said that Mr Chapman faced “turbulent conditions” including gusts of 46 knots (53 mph), which led to the helicopter losing control.

The main body of the aircraft and the rotor disc connected in flight, causing severe damage. The fuselage, rotors and many fragments fell to the ground in separate pieces, and the main fuselage impact was “not survivable” for the pilot.

A post-mortem report determined that Mr Chapman had died of multiple injuries.

The pathologist’s report also noted that the nature of Mr Chapman’s injuries indicate that he was conscious and had his hands on the controls of the aircraft at the time of the accident.

Mr Chapman’s general handling skills were described as being very good, and he was “properly prepared” for the flight - having discussed his plans with a flying instructor beforehand.

He had 786 hours of flying experience, including 126 on helicopters.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch report concluded: “Training in mountain flying techniques and the associated hazards could have assisted the pilot in executing the flight successfully, or making a decision not to fly in the challenging wind conditions which prevailed.”