NTSB: Pilot hurt in fatal chopper crash had weather warning

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A pilot injured in a helicopter crash that killed his passenger in Tennessee didn’t heed warnings about flying in marginal weather in the Smoky Mountains, federal transportation safety authorities said.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report, the pilot and his passenger traveled from Utah to Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport on Dec. 29 to get a leased Robinson R-44 four-seat light helicopter.

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The report says service center employees cautioned about dangerous flying conditions in the Smokies. The pilot declared “those are hills” and said he had 14 years of mountain flying, the report says.

A local ambulance pilot advised “there was no way he would make it” to Raleigh, North Carolina. The ambulance pilot noted the route’s 6,000-foot mountains and power lines above the Interstate 40 gorge.

A man at a campground near the Cosby, Tennessee, crash reported hearing, then seeing, the helicopter emerge from the fog, then called 911 when it crashed.

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