May 30, 2023

UPDATE: Dark waters disoriented pilots in chilling final moments of fatal Chris Cline helicopter crash, NTSB reports

UPDATE (5/28/21): The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reached its final conclusion on the cause of the fatal helicopter crash that killed billionaire Chris Cline.

“The helipad from which they departed was brightly lit with floodlights, but then the helicopter proceeded over water in dark night conditions with no visible moon, likely zero ambient illumination, and no visible horizon, which would necessitate the pilots’ reliance on the instruments in order to fly because of the very limited outside cues,” the most recent report stated.

NTSB ruled that the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) started within seconds of take-off. The helicopter was descending at about 1,380 feet per minute within seconds of leaving the helipad.

At 1:52:31, Painter stated, “Alright, airspeed coming up – No it’s not coming up, so push that nose forward. Get some airspeed.”

Jude responded, “I’m goin’. I’ll ** the power.”

“Watch your altitude,” replied Painter, who also told Jude that there had been a fatal accident in the U.K. and “this is exactly what happened.”

In a cockpit recording, a number of warning sounds emitted from the EGPWS, NTSB reported.

The craft crashed at about 1:53 a.m.

As two pilots prepared to land in the Bahamas in July 2019 on an emergency run to fly two sick newly graduated college students, two of their friends and the pilots’ billionaire boss to Fort Lauderdale, one remarked to the other: “I haven’t flown this thing in over a month until today.”

The co-pilot retorted “Bloody #,” a recently released National Transportation Safety Board transcript from the cockpit reveals. The transcript uses “#” to replace expletives.

When the pilot, Jupiter resident David Jude, responds that the helicopter has been in “the # shop,” co-pilot Geoffrey Painter replies: “Has it? What’s been wrong with it?”

Jude’s answer would in retrospect prove unnerving: “Every # thing,” he said.

The pilots landed in the pre-dawn hours of July 4 on coal magnate Christopher Cline’s private Big Grand Cay in the Bahamas and soon set off on their medical run with five more passengers.


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