News Chopper Crash Shows The Dangers
Today’s tragedy serves as a stark reminder of what can go wrong every time a news organization puts a reporter or photographer in the sky.
It was just over a month ago that the National Transportation Safety Board released a series of reports detailing the investigation of a July 2007 collision between two Phoenix news choppers that were covering a police chase. Two pilots and two photographers were killed.
Only three days after that crash, a traffic helicopter owned by the Dallas FOX affilliate was forced into an emergency landing, rolling over on its side, injuring the traffic reporter.
In May 2004, a helicopter crew covering a shooting for a Brooklyn NBC affiliate hit a four-story apartment building and subsequently crashed on an adjacent apartment building. Fortunately, the two pilots and reporter suffered only minor injuries.
In 2001, a Milwaukee news station’s helicopter crashed into an interstate shortly after the pilot dropped off the reporter. The pilot was killed.
In March 2000, a pilot and photographer for Miami’s NBC affiliate were killed when their helicopter crashed in a residential area.
“The rules with helicopters are pretty simple,” Bob Sainlar, pilot and director of operations for Houston-based Central Helicopter Service, Inc, tells Hair Balls. “Your only requirement is that if you have an engine failure, you should be able to reach a forced landing area without hurting people or property.”
Sainlar also said that helicopters are permitted to fly as low as 300 feet, compared to 1,000 for airplanes.
-- Craig Malisow