Report: Helicopter pilot lost consciousness before crash

KANEOHE, Oahu — A helicopter pilot told federal investigators that he lost consciousness twice during an October flight that crashed on an Oahu sandbar, resulting in injuries to the pilot and two passengers.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report this week on the tour helicopter that wrecked on a Kaneohe Bay sandbar on Oct. 22.

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The Robinson R44 helicopter had taken off from the Honolulu International Airport for a 45-minute tour of Oahu, according to the report.

The 57-year-old pilot told investigators that “felt himself lose consciousness” about 20 minutes into the flight. He changed course to head toward the coast and prepared for a precautionary landing after he regained consciousness and control.

“The pilot remembers being in a dream-like state during his loss of consciousness, and in the dream-like state, he was piloting the helicopter and knew that he was in an emergency situation,” the report states.

The pilot lost consciousness again and remembered waking up to first responders treating him, according to the report.

Novictor Aviation, the tour company that owns the helicopter, previously said the pilot was believed to have suffered a medical emergency during the flight.

Carli McCounaghy, 35, and Adam Barnett, 31, a recently engaged couple from Joliet, Illinois, were on the flight.

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They told investigators that the pilot slumped over during the flight. The front-seat passenger grabbed the helicopter controls to slow the fall before it crashed, according to the report.

The pilot did not have any prior medical problems since he was hired by the company in May.