Helicopter in fatal crash on Catalina Island hit side of hill, authorities say

A helicopter that crashed on Catalina Island nearly a month ago, killing its pilot, hit the side of a hill at an elevation of more than 1,000 feet, the National Transportation Safety Board said today.

Philip Shu Chu Yang, 60, of Palos Verdes Estates was found dead about 10 a.m. on June 18, when the wreckage was discovered, according to the coroner’s office and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

According to the NTSB’s Aviation Accident Preliminary Report, the Robinson R44 helicopter crashed about 5:30 p.m. on June 17.

“The pilot was fatally injured,” the NTSB reported. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Yang as a personal aircraft.

The flight left from Long Beach Airport at 4:57 p.m. on June 17 and no flight plan was filed, according to the report.

“An Alert notification was issued for the accident helicopter when a family member of the pilot reported that the helicopter failed to return to (the airport),” the NTSB reported.

Local law enforcement started search-and-rescue operations throughout the north area of Catalina Island and found the wreckage on the morning of June 18.

Radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration showed the helicopter descended toward the side of a hill at 117 knots, or about 135 mph. It hit the side of the hill at an elevation of 1,015 feet, according to the report.

“The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination,” the NTSB reported.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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