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Weather, disorientation led to fatal helicopter crash near Grande Prairie

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Pilot decision-making, deteriorating weather, and an inability to assess surroundings led to the helicopter crash near Grande Prairie that took the lives of a Grande Prairie area family on New Year’s Day 2021.

According to the Transportation Safety Board’s investigation, during the flight from Eaglesham to DeBolt, the pilot lost control of the Robertson R44 helicopter and it crashed in a farmer’s field in the Birch Hills County area. The helicopter was destroyed and caught fire.

Wade and Aubrey Balisky and two of their children, Jewel, 8, and Fleur, 2, were identified as the victims of a helicopter crash in Birch Hills County on New Year’s Day. The family is survived by Wade and Aubrey’s other children: Chevey, Remington and Indya. (Shared, Balisky family)

The TSB investigation found that an inaccurate assessment of the weather along the route likely led to the pilot’s decision to fly when the weather conditions were substandard. It is probable that, shortly after taking off, the weather and visibility got worse and the pilot became disoriented and lost control.

All four people on board were killed, Wade and Aubrey Balisky and their daughters Jewel and Fleur. The Baliskys were survived by three children, Chevey, Remington, and Indya.

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