NTSB: Pigeon Forge helicopter rotor blades separated from main wreckage

National Transportation Safety Board releases preliminary report on Smoky Mountain Helicopters accident that killed five people.

NTSB examines Pigeon Forge helicopter crash site on April 5, 2016

PIGEON FORGE (WATE) – A witness who lived near the site of an accident where a sightseeing helicopter crashed killing five people said the helicopter was flying in a descent and it “didn’t sound right.”

In witness interviews in a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board, a witness said the helicopter sounded as if “the engine was wound tight” and it “lost the rotor sound.” He then heard the helicopter’s engine go silent, “as if the pilot cut the power,” followed by the sound of the helicopter impacting the ridge line near Rainbow Road in Pigeon Forge.

Investigators said the helicopter initially impacted trees near the top of a ridge. The helicopter came to rest in a wooded area near the bottom of the ridge.

Read a full copy of the preliminary report

All of the main structure of the helicopter was located at the main accident site, according to the NTSB. However, investigators said one of the helicopter’s two main rotor blades were separated and locked about 20 feet from the main wreckage.

The NTSB said the cause of the accident will not be released until a national board in Washington Review Board in Washington D.C. reviews investigators’ findings. That is expected to take a year.

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