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Pilot cited by FAA before fatal accident

ACTON, Calif., Feb. 19 (UPI) — The pilot of a helicopter that crashed in California while filming a television program had his pilot privileges suspended twice since 2003, records show.

David Gibbs, 59, of Valencia, Calif., was one of three people killed Feb. 10 when the helicopter he was piloting crashed at Polsa Rosa Ranch, near Acton, a privately-owned property used for television productions. The accident occurred during filming of a military-themed reality television program for the Discovery Channel, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Records show the Federal Aviation Administration suspended Gibbs’ license for 30 days in December 2003 for operating a helicopter in a “careless and reckless manner” in November 2002. The National Transportation Safety Board said Gibbs flew the aircraft into a power line as it was filming a segment for the program “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!”

A second incident occurred in 2004, when a helicopter Gibbs was landing rolled onto its side, an NTSB report said. Investigators determined the accident was caused by a power loss and did not blame Gibbs, the newspaper said.

The FAA suspended Gibbs again, for 45 days, in 2007, citing his failure “to remain in two-way-radio communication” while filming the program “The Amazing Race.” The records did not indicate where that incident occurred.

The crash in Acton raised debate in Hollywood about levels of safety on reality television programs, the newspaper said.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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