Downed Poconos helicopter will be shipped to Delaware
Oct 11, 2012 (The Morning Call (Menafn - Allentown - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --The pilot who died in Tuesday's helicopter crash into fog-shrouded Monroe County woods was a lifelong friend of the passenger who survived, the pilot's wife said Thursday.
William Ellsworth, 52, of Califon, N.J., was a former American Airlines pilot who had an enduring love of aviation, his wife Trish Ellsworth, said.
Her husband on Tuesday flew his childhood friend Stephen Barral and a Connecticut investment broker to play golf near Elmira, N.Y. As they flew back toward the New York City area, bad weather closed in, and Ellsworth tried to land at Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport.
The helicopter came down about 8 p.m. a mile short of the airport, crashing into dense woods on state game lands about 100 yards west of Interstate 380 in Coolbaugh Township.
Ellsworth and Tighe Sullivan, 51, of Darien, Conn., died. Barral, 50, of Bernardsville, N.J., survived.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board on Thursday announced authorities will close one lane of southbound I-380 about 11 a.m. Friday to allow crews to remove wreckage of the Bell 407 helicopter from the crash site.
The wreckage will be trucked to a secure facility in Delaware where the investigation will continue. The NTSB will issue a preliminary report with a probable cause of the crash within 10 days. A more detailed final report could take up to 18 months, NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said.
Weiss said investigators will examine the aircraft's maintenance history, the pilot's physical condition and other factors, including whether he had enough rest before the flight and weather conditions before the crash.
Visibility at Pocono Mountains airport before the helicopter went down was 1/4-mile in fog and light rain. The helicopter left Somerset Airport near Somerville, N.J., on Tuesday and flew to Elmira. The aircraft left Elmira after dropping off one passenger and headed for Morristown Municipal Airport in Whippany, N.J.
Earlier reports by police said the helicopter had dropped a passenger in Wilkes-Barre.
Trish Ellsworth said her husband was also a close friend of Steven Bradley Mell, who is listed as head of the leasing company to which the helicopter is registered. Mell is also president of W.H. Mell Associates, where Barral is employed.
William Ellsworth loved to fly helicopters, his wife said, and although he was licensed to fly them commercially, he piloted the Mell aircraft simply for the opportunity to fly it.
"As everyone has said to me, he was one of the most amazing pilots they've ever met. And one of the safest pilots," said Trish Ellsworth.
William Ellsworth earned his pilot's license when he was 16, spurred on by a grandfather and uncle who were recreational pilots. He flew for American Airlines for about 20 years after a stint with Pan Am, his wife said.
In addition to his wife, William Ellsworth is survived by a daughter Eliza, 18, and a son Harry, 15.
Police learned of the crash at 10 p.m., and were initially unable to find it. With assistance from the U.S. Air Force, police were able to pinpoint the crash site using GPS data from a passenger's cell phone and located the wreckage about 2:30 a.m.
Barral was taken first to Pocono Medical Center and later to Lehigh Valley Hospital because of the severity of his injuries. No information on his condition was available Thursday.
Sullivan was founder of WCAS Fraser Sullivan Investment Management in New York City and a graduate of Colgate University, according to the firm's website.
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