ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The National Transportation Safety Board has released its final report into a 2016 helicopter crash on a glacier above Skagway that left a 66-year-old pilot dead.
The agency determined that poor weather contributed to the crash, as did the pilot’s “self-induced pressure to complete the day’s series of flights;" the NTSB also laid blame at the hands of a base manager, who didn’t cancel flights as conditions worsened.
The report by the NTSB describes Christopher Maggio as a pilot with 25 years' experience. He was carrying loads from Skagway to a camp on a nearby glacier where dog mushing took place.
During the afternoon, Maggio reported "icing" as he flew from Skagway to the glacier camp. The base manager allegedly said that the pilot should “do what he thought was best” as to whether flights should continue.
“However, flight operations in icing conditions are prohibited by the helicopter's rotorcraft flight manual and the operator's operations manual, and the pilot's statement should have prompted the base manager to suspend the flights,” according to the report.
During the fifth of seven planned flights, Maggo is said to have told the camp manager on the glacier that he didn’t think he would be able to fly again, "but don't give up on me yet," the NTSB report lists this as “the self-induced pressure” to fly by the pilot.
During the next flight, Maggio crashed into a steep side of a mountain around two miles from the camp on the glacier.
Wooden boxes used to store the sled dogs during the flights were said to have come loose, though they weren’t listed as a cause of the crash.
Initially, efforts were made to get to the wreckage but the risk of avalanche prevented people coming by snowmobile. Hours later, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was able to access the crash and confirm that Maggio had died in the wreckage.