Officials: Helicopter Flew Into Snow Shortly Before Crash

MEHOOPANY, Pa. (AP) — A helicopter flew into a band of snow shortly before spinning out of control and crashing in remote area of northeastern Pennsylvania last month, killing a Lehigh Valley physician, authorities said.

But a spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board says it's unclear whether the snow caused or contributed to the April 22 crash that killed Dr. Sanjay Kansara or whether other factors were involved, The (Allentown) Morning Call reported.

The Robinson R44 copter departed Allentown Queen Municipal Airport and was headed to Bradford County Airport in Towanda when it went down in Forkston Township, Wyoming County. Kansara, 54, who lived in Upper Saucon Township and commuted by air to a Bradford County hospital, was killed.

The helicopter was cruising at an altitude of about 3,000 feet and made a slight right turn above Forkston Township, then entered a “right, descending spiral” until tracking data was lost shortly after 9 p.m., according to a preliminary safety board report.

Weather data indicated Kansara encountered a band of snow before the descending right turn, and the report notes that Kansara wasn’t rated to fly under “instrument conditions” in which pilots are to rely on instruments rather than outside visual references. Visibility was 10 miles with frigid temperatures, according to the report.

Safety board spokesperson Christopher O’Neil stressed the report is preliminary and could change before the final report, which could take one to two years.

“We won’t get to the how and why until much later,” O’Neil said. “These are the facts were were able to ascertain.” He said a final report could take 12 to 24 months.