Exactly. While a tragic event, every day police officers are killed in the line of duty in this country, and at least once a week a firefighter is killed in the line of duty. Soldiers are killed in training every week as well. The media gives those tragedies a lot less play. If you would have known one of those police officers or families like I do that pain is very real.If he wasn't famous, nobody would care
I have flown Special VFR (Actually a IFR Clearance) in planes and helicopters. I was concerned in airplanes, as I could not slow much, When flying Helicopter I could go down to 30 or so (Often you might not be able to hover at that altitude, temperature, and weight. The S-76B however, has very strong engines and likely could hover,). The slower you go in any aircraft the easier it is to estimate your forward visibility. There are LIMITS written in the regulations as to how low these visibilities, if operating for hire under Part 135 these limits are usually higher than private general aviation limits, I have heard this was Part 91 general aviation, and then it has been said it was for hire Part 135. This wonderment will clear up soon.
If the flight visibility was going below the prescribed limits or the pilot felt it was unsafe to continue. There are still options available, Turning around is usually considered the best idea, but sometimes the weather is closing from all directions. You can declare an emergency to ATC and initiate a Climb to IFR flight levels and request ATC assistance to the airport nearest the destination. This is safe, but most pilots abhor declaring a Emergency as they might be asked to explain themselves later as it is treated as a flight deviation (ATC tattles to Flight Standards, the enforcers sort of) A hassle.
So getting back to that turn around, it is easier to turn in a smaller arc at lower speeds, in airplanes you are considerably more limited in how slow you can go while turning to prevent wing stall. In any case you are normally on one side or the other of the valley, usually on the right on the off chance someone else might be coming in the other direction. (It happens) A slow speed turn to the left would be what I would expect, it would keep you away from the terrain and get you closer the right side of the valley on your way back to better weather. The pilot seat in a S-76B, single pilot, is on the right, people naturally want to turn toward the side they are sitting, you can also keep the terrain in sight. It would be nice to Pirouette to the right, keeping the terrain in sight in that situation, You cannot however Pirouette a helicopter at 153 knots.
Don't speed when it gets foggy, pay attention, if you have a increasing level of concern then that should make your decision easy. Always have a exit plan and execute that plan if needed.
There will be a lot coming out in the months ahead and we will know more, there are no black boxes like airliners have, unless in the unlikely event they ordered or added to the aircraft. The NTSB might be able recover GPS data if they have the device and it was not burned up. That would give more accurate speed and track data than what we have now. I believe the 76B also would have a power usage data track on some controller or other. That would indicate collective (Power lever) position. GPS recorded data would be continuous and not every two minutes or whatever interval some of the external taking apps use.
I would bet large that Pilot Error will be the number one factor, for whatever reasons were important to the pilot. I have not listened to the tapes, I did see one track that had the last recorded speed at 153. I have been in his shoes.