A preliminary investigation report was released Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board on the helicopter crash that took the life of a beloved Skagway pilot. The report details the conditions on May 6, when the aircraft went down, though the cause has yet to be determined.
An outpouring of love and support flooded Skagway and beyond after the loss of Chris Maggio. The 59-year-old was an experienced pilot and cherished community member. And while the cause of the crash that cut his life short is not yet known, the initial report provides some details.
It says on May 6 at 6:55 p.m. the Airbus helicopter Maggio was flying collided with snow-covered terrain about four miles southeast of Skagway. Maggio was on his way back to Skagway after dropping off one passenger and 12 sled dogs to a dog mushing tour camp on the Denver Glacier.
The reports states that there were marginal visual conditions were reported on the Denver Glacier at the time of the accident, and appropriate procedures were in effect.
Mike Hodges is the lead investigator in the case. He says the full report will take up to 18 months to complete.
“This is preliminary information. We’re still going through and looking at all aspects of the man, the machine, and the environment,” he said.
According to the report, Maggio flew towards the previously used return route to the southwest, but then changed course and flew to the north where visibility was little better. At the time of the accident, a weather report from Skagway stated that wind was blowing at 21 miles per hour with gusts up to 32. It reported few clouds at 8,000 feet with a temperature of 53 degrees.
When operations on the ground realized Maggio was overdue, a second helicopter was dispatched.
It found the helicopter resting on its left side with the tailboom separated in steep mountainous terrain about two miles northeast of the dog camp.
The helicopter sustained “substantial damage to the main rotor system, the fuselage, the tailboom, and the tail rotor system.”
Two days after the accident, on May 8, investigators from the transportation safety board, the Federal Aviation Administration and Temsco traveled to the scene. The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure facility for future examination.
Hodges says wreckage from site is en route to Juneau for more inspection.
“We’re very detailed oriented and methodical during the investigation, so we wait for all that information before we move forward.”
On Friday, a week after the accident, the community of Skagway held a celebration of life for Maggio. Hundreds of people showed up to share stories of a life well lived. An account is also set up at Wells Fargo to help with costs.
Find the NTSB report here.