Suicide Presumed in Air Tour Fatal Fall

The pilot of a tour helicopter reports he tried to restrain his passenger after the man opened the door of the Robinson R44 over the ocean near Newport Beach, California. But the man, later identified as Gregory McFadden of West Covina, California, succeeded in breaking free and fell approximately 500 feet to the water's surface. He was pulled from the water and rescuers tried to revive him, but he was later pronounced dead at an area hospital. FAA spokesman Ian Gregor emailed to news outlets, "The only passenger on board opened the door and jumped into the water."

Cardinal Air Services booked the flight, which was scheduled for two passengers, but only the victim showed up on Tuesday. McFadden's brother reportedly said the man had a serious debilitating medical condition and could not get treatment. The FAA and Newport Beach police department are both investigating the incident as a suicide.

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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