Helicopter Safety – Why Helicopters Crash and How to Prevent Accidents

by James T. Crouse on February 1, 2011

in Helicopter Safety

There has been much on the internet lately about helicopter crashes and their causes.  Not only do the accidents continue, but it seems every day someone is sending out messages–with a wide range of credibility–giving his or her view on why helicopters crash. It’s time we weighed in by starting a new, ongoing series concerning helicopter safety on this site.

My interest in this field goes all the way back to my youth.  I grew up listening to my father tell me about his work as a final inspector on B-26 Martin Marauder aircraft at Glenn L. Martin during WWII.  Before my days as a career Army aviator serving as a helicopter pilot, helicopter maintenance officer and a test pilot, I piloted my first airplane at the age of twenty. We also had a family member who was a Navy F-4 Phantom pilot and from him I learned about jet flying and its inherent risks.

All of this happened before I became a lawyer.  My interest in aviation safety started before I ever knew a thing about aviation law and it continues today as I regrettably investigate crash after crash. Experiencing 40 years in aviation and 30 years investigating crashes, I want to understand their causes and how to prevent them. I want to try to preclude other families from suffering tragedy.

The desire to find answers and to make a difference is the reason we are undertaking this new series. We will search the internet and our own experiences and investigations and do our best to provide a forum, and information, on this important subject.  We’ll present web sites that talk about helicopters and helicopter safety.  We’ll find all we can, and we’ll share it with you.  Hopefully, by doing this, we can raise awareness and be a positive force for increased safety.

This isn’t just about us and what we find.  We need your input.  Add your ideas, your experiences, and your comments.  When you see a problem, let us know.  When you see a company or a person that deserves praise, tell us.  Together, we can fix the problems.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Todd Klugh August 2, 2011 at 10:42 pm

With your experience flying helicopters, I was wondering if you could tell me what “stale air” is and how entering it can cause a helicopter to crash?

Todd Klugh


James T. Crouse June 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Todd: Afraid I am not familiar with that term. Where did you see it? Can you give it a context?



Chris September 7, 2012 at 8:42 am

Ive heard stale air is created when a helicopter hovers too long in one spot, I don’t know much more than that tho. I assumed it meant in some way the helicopter is able to remove all the “air” from under it that it is using for lift. Now I don’t know if that means humid or “wet air” that is displaced or “dried” or what but I have heard that term quite a few times.


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