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Yacht Helicopter Crash
Posted: Tuesday, August 4, 2009 3:33 PM
Joined: 02/05/2008
Posts: 392

According to, M/Y Lady Christine's helicopter was involved in a crash near Little Deer Island in Penobscot Bay, Maine, on Saturday, August 1 around 4:50 p.m. All four passengers were able to escape safely; later, one was taken to the hosptial for minor injuries. The reports that the yacht's owner, Lord Laidlaw, was flying the helicopter when it went down.

"A Station Rockland, Maine 25-foot response boat responded to a helicopter crash Saturday, 5:35 p.m., near Little Deer Island in Penobscot Bay, Maine.

A nearby sailing vessel that saw the crash called Station Rockland at 4:50 p.m. to report the incident, and the station launched a boat crew at 4:56 p.m. The helicopter took off from the 182-foot M/Y Lady Christine, which was anchored in the area.

Four people were aboard the helicopter and none of them suffered life-threatening injuries. One person was taken to a nearby hospital to be treated for neck pain, but the injury was not considered serious.

The Rockland response boat arrived on scene at 5:35 p.m. and while it was en route received a report that all four people aboard the helicopter got out safely after the crash and waded ashore to the island.

A small boat dispatched from the Lady Christine picked the four people up and brought them back to the luxury yacht. One passanger was then taken back ashore to be treated for the neck injury.

The Rockland Coast Guard small boat at 6:55 p.m. tied up to the crashed helicopter and towed it to shore on the island, where a marine salvage company will attempt to remove it.

Two pollution response petty officers from Coast Guard Sector Northern New England in Portland, Maine, drove to the island, which is about 20 miles from Station Rockland and is connected to the mainland by a bridge.

About 30 gallons of helicopter fuel are estimated to have leaked from the aircraft.

A Maine Marine Patrol vessel assisted the Coast Guard during this incident.

The Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection will investigate the pollution that occurred, and the cause of the crash will be investigated.

“Station Rockland launched right away after getting the report of the crash,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Joe Tallent of Sector Northern New England. “We were glad to hear all the people got out safely. Right now we want to contain any pollution that may exist from the crash and coordinate with the salvage company to remove the helicopter from the shore of the island.”"

Photos by SNBM Sean P. O'Connor
Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 5:26 PM
Another reason why owners of yachts (even smaller ones) have captains? . . . . . so that they always have someone to blame everything/anything on. Gee, I wonder who the Owner (Lord Laidlaw) is going to blame for this one?
Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 6:56 PM
Joined: 07/05/2008
Posts: 4

To "anonymous" [comment edited by moderator] Lord Laidlaw and people like him are the reason there are yachts. Put your negativity back where it belongs and at least have the presence to wait until the facts are known before you assume that people behave similar to yourself under bad situations.
Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 7:29 PM
[Comment edited by moderator] i guess you got fired from thi Yacht . but just to let you know machines fail because they are built by  people. wait for the report ..... that is why ISM was brought in.  [Comment edited by moderator]
Jon Overing
Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 8:03 PM
Joined: 21/04/2009
Posts: 1

Nice reporting, thank God no one was seriously injured or worse.  It always makes me nervous when an owner asks for landing space on a yacht.  Their problem occured away from the yacht, but there is very little margin for error on most yachts and that leaves the potential for disaster.


Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 9:06 PM
Joined: 01/05/2008
Posts: 41

This accident highlights a striking difference between the yachting and aviation industries. There will be a full report on this incident, available somewhat promptly. It will be investigated by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, which works with the Federal Aviation Administration. The results will be available so all other owners of this same Eurocopter model will know if any mechanical deficiencies exist.


For example, after a recent helicopter crash that killed 9 people earlier this year, it was determined a bird was the culprit (instantly knocking the pilots unconscious). And as a result many of the same type of helicopters had their windshields replaced.


My husband works in the aviation industry and their culture is to be extremely discreet with any conjectures into accidents causes; they just don't do it, and the answers are always available. Unlike this industry, where we end up guessing a lot and rarely finding out the facts thanks to lengthly insurance investigations and a culture of silence.

Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 10:41 PM
Not that it matters, but in the interests of accuracy, I believe that the name of the island is Little Deer Isle.
Posted: Thursday, August 6, 2009 7:29 PM
Wow . . . . Seateam . . . . pretty hostile, aren't we? I was merely making a comment, not making conjecture of what went wrong "before all the facts are available". At least my comment didn't have to be "edited by moderator".
Posted: Thursday, August 20, 2009 6:33 PM
Joined: 01/05/2008
Posts: 65



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published its preliminary report on the Lady Christine helicopter crash on Little Deer Isle, Maine, on August 1. According to the report, the helicopter was flying at 400 feet above sea level when it began losing altitude. Before his forced landing, the pilot deployed the emergency flotation devices mounted to the heli’s skids, which prevented the helicopter from sinking. The report also maintains that the pilot did not report any mechanical malfunctions prior to the accident.


Perhaps more definitive answers will be known when the final report is issued.

El Velcro
Posted: Monday, September 14, 2009 8:29 PM
Joined: 19/03/2009
Posts: 17

Not that anyone would care to know, but when I worked on LAC11 under Captain Doug Havers, we had a Bell JetRanger 206B on the afterdeck. One of the first I believe. LAC was 147'  and had the usual gold and bits and pieces, built by De Vreis in Aalsmeer, who asked Bell what the skid widths on the 'copter would be, Bell told them but unfortunately it was while the plane was in the air, so they built the pad around 6" too small all athwartships, the result? Every time the plane came in, four crewmembers had to guide one skid down while the other was sat down by the pilot (no mean feat). After some time, the Captain and I became 'experts at getting the owner or the pilot, depending on the who was flying, to sit the plane down using hand signals, thereby keeping the guide crew down to just one.An occasion arose when I had to accompany the owner into Nice airport, leaving no-one to guide the plane down when we got back. The Mate volunteered for the risky job and put her down about a metre to the back of where it should have been, leading to us tipping alarmingly backwards and sliding down to a watery grave. The owner yanked on the collective, causing $$ of damage to the gearbox but we survived and lived to tell the tale.

Some time later, we were hired by a film production company (the name escapes  me) to launch hot air balloons from the afterdeck and sequencially launched three from the tiny space normally taken by the helicopter. No accidents, no fuss, just set a record, I think. No-one's done that again! The movie was called something like 'The Great Balloon Race' And flopped abysmally... Wonder why? 

 Average 4 out of 5