Helicopter crashes, two people hurt
Richard Watts, Times Colonist
Published: Friday, October 17, 2008
Two men were injured in a helicopter crash at the Victoria International Airport during a training flight Friday.
Sidney RCMP said the helicopter went down at 11:20 a.m. in a field in the 9800 block of Willingdon Road. The field was outside the airport security fence, but on property owned by the Victoria Airport Authority.
The two men on board, an instructor and a student pilot, were both injured. Both were conscious immediately following the accident and both talked with rescue workers.
Upturned helicopter rests in field at south end of Victoria airport after accident.View Larger Image View Larger Image
Upturned helicopter rests in field at south end of Victoria airport after accident.
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One of them, was trapped inside the chopper and freed by firefighters from the airport and North Saanich. Both men were transported to hospital by ambulance with serious injuries.
According to witnesses, the two men were identified as Coast Helicopter College instructor Wayne Goodridge and student Richard Yuen. Coast Helicopter College could not be reached for comment.
But trainee pilot Mike Zazulak said in a telephone interview yesterday afternoon from Yuen's hospital room that his friend appeared to be doing well.
"He's in good spirits," said Zazulak, 27. "He's a champ. He's making jokes and everything."
Zazulak said he saw the helicopter dropping quickly before it was obscured behind a building. The chopper was over an area where trainee pilots practise coming down without power, a manoeuvre called "autorotation," so he didn't initially expect anything was wrong.
It wasn't until he saw emergency vehicles speeding to the scene that he realized there had been an accident.
Another trainee, Andy Hatfield, 23, said he was in class when the helicopter went down.
Hatfield said when he arrived at the scene he saw the tail boom was broken off and the skids and blades were bent.
Terry Stewart, airport director of development and operations, said reports indicated the craft dropped 100 metres, bounced twice and flipped twice on hitting the ground before coming to rest on its side.
Stewart said the exercise took place over a farm field set aside for training on the southern side of the airport lands.
"This is all designed with a potential accident in mind," he said.
Stewart said airport firefighters, North Saanich firefighters and four ambulances and RCMP all responded to the crash quickly. With no fire, emergency workers were able to carefully free the two flyers.
Meanwhile, the Transportation Safety Board has to yet to determine what level of investigation they will bring to bear on the accident.
Bill Yearwood, regional manager for the TSB, said his agency will first interview the pilot and determine the direction of the investigation from there.
Despite the accident, trainee Hatfield said he remains determined to finish his pilot-training course.
"I'm going to stick with it and keep flying," said Hatfield. "As long as we know accidents happen, it keeps your cockiness down."