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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 58819
Last updated: 18 June 2020
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Time:16:53 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic R44 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Robinson R44 II
Owner/operator:Atlantic Suntoys Corp.
Registration: HP-AM3
C/n / msn: 11442
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Tocumen Int'l Airport -   Panama
Phase: En route
Nature:Domestic Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Miraflores, Panama
Destination airport:Panama-Albrook Marcos A. Gelabert International Airport (PAC/MPMG))
On February 19, 2009, at 21:52 UTC (Universal Coordinated Time)(16:53 local time), a Robinson R44, Panamanian registration HP-AM3, was destroyed when it exploded in flight and impacted the parking lot at Tocumen International Airport (PTY), Tocumen, Panama. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured.

According to a report by a friend of the pilot (see link #7):

" Robinson R44 Accident Panama 2/19/09 3 fatalities
My good friend of 40+ years was the pilot in this one. He was an excellent pilot - the best. Early reports are that the R44 caught fire at 800 ft altitude, over Panama City International Airport. There may have been an explosion. Two passengers. One passenger and two suitcases exited the copter before it hit the ground, and many meters from impact. Impact was by the approach road to the terminal. There were witnesses, so the account should get filled in.

For Gary to go, it had to be a fatal mech failure of some kind. He was a very cautious and skilled pilot. The best I ever knew. He gave me my first flying lesson in 1968.

Since there are no other incidents I could find of in-flight fires for the R44, and Gary was so careful with maintenance, preflight inspections, and piloting, I even wonder if there was some foul play? It would not have been directed at Gary personally. Perhaps his passengers. Everybody liked and respected Gary Vaucher. I look forward to a detailed investigation of the accident remains and circumstances."


1. NTSB Identification: CEN09WA216

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: 
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report

Revision history:

27-Feb-2009 00:02 harro Added
13-Jun-2009 04:39 Rotorspot Updated
12-Feb-2018 18:09 harro Updated [Time, Cn, Operator]
05-Nov-2018 01:49 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
22-Nov-2019 09:34 TB Updated [Location]

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