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Stevie Ray Vaughan: The NTSB Report

Stevie Ray Vaughan could play a guitar like nobody's business. Fusing blues and rock & roll, Vaughan gave us a new standard by which all ax-men should be judged. (In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named him the #7 greatest guitarist of all time.) SRV had the technical skills and the artistic sensibility to make some of the most passionate and memorable music, classics such as "The Sky is Crying," "Pride and Joy," "Cold Shot," "Taxman," "The House is Rockin'," "Couldn't Stand the Weather," "Crossfire," "Change It," and "Tightrope." SRV was nominated for 2 Grammy Awards and won two Grammys. The Blues Hall of Fame inducted Stevie Ray in 2000. Unfortunately, he was not alive to accept that honor. In 1990, amidst fog, the helicopter he was riding in slammed into a man-made ski hill. Stevie Ray Vaughan was 35.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

NTSB Identification: CHI90MA244.

The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 43569.

Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter

Accident occurred Monday, August 27, 1990 in ELKHORN, WI

Probable Cause Approval Date: 9/11/1992

Aircraft: BELL 206B, registration: N16933

Injuries: 5 Fatal.

Four helicopters were being used at night to transport a conecrt group from a golf course area near Elkhorn, WI, to Chicago, IL. As the third helicopter (N16933) was departing, it remained at a lower altitude than the others, and the pilot turned southeasterly toward rising terrain. Subsequently, the helicopter crashed on hilly terrain about 3/5 mi from the takeoff point. Elevation of the crash site was about 100 ft above the golf course and 50 ft below the summit of the hill. No preimpact part failure or malfunction was found during the investigation. Pilots of teh other helicopters reported vfr flight conditions with some fog. A ground witness near the crash site reported haze and ground fog of varying intensity with patches of low clouds, but said stars could be seen through the fog.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

Improper planning/decision by the pilot, and his failure to attain adequate altitude before flying over rising terrain at night. Factors related to the accident were: darkness, fog, haze, rising terrain, and the lack of visual cues that were available to the pilot.

Stevie Ray Vaughan memorial

Memorial to Stevie Ray Vaughan in Austin, Texas.