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NTSB: 5-Year-Old Girl May Have Caused Fatal Copter Crash

Craig McClellan

Billionaire Thomas Stewart and four members of his family died nearly three years ago in a tragic 2010 helicopter crash. The National Transportation Safety Board has finally released the results of its investigation into the crash. Its report points to a surprising conclusion: Stewart's 5-year-old daughter probably played a pivotal role.

How could a 5-year-old girl cause a fatal aviation crash? The NTSB thinks it was a tragic accident.

Although the NTSB cannot be completely certain, it based its finding on two big factors. The first involves the physical evidence from the wreckage. It appears that the helicopter crashed after the horizontal rotors cut into the aircraft's tail.

The wreckage bore some indicators that this happened because of overly sharp steering corrections - the helicopter apparently veered up and down rapidly in a short period of time. This overcorrection caused the rotors to bend too far and strike the tail.

Eyewitnesses also reported seeing Stewart sitting in the copilot's seat and placing his daughter on his lap right before takeoff. The helicopter had two sets of flight controls - one was located right in front of that copilot's seat. According to the NTSB, it is very likely that the 5-year-old girl accidentally kicked or shoved the altitude controls, sending the helicopter into a steep dive. When the pilot quickly tried to recover, the rotors bent too far and destroyed the helicopter.

These findings could have an impact on the ongoing lawsuits in this case. For starters, the NTSB indicated that the pilot was potentially at fault for failing to maintain proper "cockpit discipline." If he hadn't allowed the girl to sit on Stewart's lap, the disaster might not have happened.

Source: Sonoran News, " NTSB says five year old probably caused 2010 Eurocopter crash," Linda Bentley, Nov. 14, 2012