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Helicopter Crash Caused by Tiny Scratch in Blade, NTSB Says

May 23, 1991

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ A scratch on a rotor blade caused a helicopter crash that killed three top Trump Organization executives two years ago, a federal report says.

The $2 million Agosta 109A helicopter lost its main rotor assembly during a flight from New York to Atlantic City and crashed on a wooded median along the Garden State Parkway on Oct. 10, 1989.

Stephen F. Hyde, head of Donald Trump’s Atlantic City operations; Mark G. Etess, president of Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino Resort; and Jonathan Benanav, Trump Plaza Casino Hotel executive vice president, died in the crash.

Many industry analysts say their deaths contributed to the financial decline of Trump’s Atlantic City operations.

The scratch, less than 2 inches long, was found near a lead weight used to balance the rotor blade, the NTSB reported this week.

Agosta Aerospace Corp., based in Milan, Italy, used epoxy glue in the 1980s to set the weights and then scraped off excess glue with sharp tools, the report said. It appears a scraping tool scratched the blade, the NTSB said.

Microscopic analysis found ″fracture features″ that show metal fatigue from the original scratch had spread outward, the report said.

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