I strap into the Eurocopter EC135 light twin and head for California’s Cajon Pass. Cajon can deal helicopter pilots some of the worst conditions imaginable. The pass was created by the San Andreas fault and separates the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains, not far from the HITOP VFR intersection and the San Bernardino and Rialto airports. The stretch of Interstate 15 and state road 138 that run through the pass are frequent scenes of automotive carnage.
Bell 412, Hesperia, Calif., Dec. 10, 2006–Bell 412SP N410MA, operated by LifeNet dba Mercy Air Services, crashed in the mountains near the top of Cajon Pass, killing the commercial pilot and two medical crewmembers. The helicopter was destroyed in the post-crash fire. VMC prevailed along the route from the Loma Linda University Medical Center to Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville. A company VFR flight plan was filed.