Haleakala Mountain, HI Helicopter Crashes, Sept 1992


Wailuku, Hawaii -- (AP) -- Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived Thursday and began trying to learn what caused a tour helicopter to crash into a mountainside, killing all seven people aboard.
The accident Wednesday on Haleakala Mountain was the worst copter crash in recent memory in Hawaii, federal officials said.
Those killed included the aircraft's 44-year-old pilot, PETER MIDDLETON, and six out of state visitors whose names were not immediately released by officials.
The French made craft, operated by Hawaii Helicopters, went down in Waiopai Gulch, on the island of Maui, on the 10,000-foot mountain's southern side.
Rescuers who recovered the bodies said debris from the crash was scattered for 200 feet around the site and the victims had all been flung from the aircraft.
"It looked like, from the way the debris was spread, that he flew into the side of the gulch," said Lt. George Kahoohanohano, head of the police-fire recovery team.
Federal Aviation Administration officials seized the company's records, and they were to be turned over to a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said FAA spokesman Pete Beckner.
All of Hawaii's islands were under a flash flood watch at the time because of heavy rain and thundershowers.
The pilot, who had flown several flights earlier in the day, had never had an accident in 23 years of flying, said Hawaii Helicopters co-owner Don Ballard.
The crash was the first major accident in the company's seven-year history, said Hawaii Helicopters employee Hillary Palmer.

Galveston Daily News Texas 1992-09-18