Bad weather caused 2015 helicopter crash

An investigation has attributed bad weather as the likely factor that caused a fatal helicopter crash in 2015, which killed landscape photographer and pilot, Richard Green, along with his wife Carolyn Green and documentary maker John Davis, in the NSW Hunter Valley.

Carolyn and Richard.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) has revealed that on November 7, 2015, Green was piloting the chopper toward rising terrain in the Watagans National Park when he encountered reduced visibility due to low cloud.

After temporarily landing to let the weather pass, the helicopter took off and encountered conditions that led to the accident.

‘Weather-related general aviation accidents remain one of the most significant causes for concern in aviation safety,’ The investigation said. ‘The often-fatal outcomes of these accidents are usually all the more tragic because they are avoidable.’

The Greens were accomplished landscape photographers, thanks to both their skills behind the camera and ability to fly to remote and inaccessible locations.

The heli-camping lifestyle in action. Source: SMH

Richard had an early retirement in the 80s, after making a fortune through a successful career in IT in England.

He learnt how to pilot a helicopter, moved the Australia and met Carolyn, and spent over 20 years flying his beloved EC135 Airbus helicopter to remote outback locations.

Richard and Carolyn described their lifestyle as ‘photo heli-camping’. They published a photo book, Remote and Wild, which along with images tells stories about their adventures and the challenges they faced.

While Richard had been suspended in 2013 for dangerous flying, and had been reported for other incidents, the investigation concluded his history had no connection with the fatal accident.

There was no engine malfunction, but an emergency located had been replaced with personal locator beacons which required manual activation delayed the search and rescue operation.

would spend time ‘heli-camping in camped to camp out and photographically capture the stunning natural environment.

Here’s an exert from an obituary written by celebrated photographer, Robert McFarlane, in the Sydney Morning Herald:
‘Several years ago I, with inaugural Australian Centre of Photography director Graham Howe, took a revealing ride in the Greens’ Eurocopter to a remote region of the Blue Mountains. Without the extreme agility of the aircraft, and Richard’s unflappable control in flight, our journey to a distant stone plateau bearing Aboriginal carvings would have been impossible. The moment Green took off (backwards) from the concrete plateau serving the hangar and banked sharply toward the mountains, it was obvious we were on an aerial voyage in which pilot and helicopter performed as one. It was this capacity to effortlessly find and descend into remarkable landscapes that clearly drove Richard and Carolyn Green.

Not content with just observing and documenting distant vistas seen from above, the Greens would instead land in promising regions, make camp, after which Richard would explore on foot, searching with his Canon digital SLR for poetic visual evidence of Australia’s ancient geology, flora and fauna. He would often return several times to catch the perfect light for the shot. Nothing delighted the Greens more than also discovering (and photographing) a rare outback bird or reptile concealed within the landscape.’

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