Miracle escape for helicopter pilot

A HELICOPTER pilot is lucky to be alive after he had an amazing escape yesterday as he crash-landed at an Essex airport. The 55-year-old Colchester man was flying a Bell Jetranger chopper when it tipped over, damaging the rotor blade and bringing it smashing down.

A HELICOPTER pilot is lucky to be alive after he had an amazing escape yesterday as he crash-landed at an Essex airport.

The 55-year-old Colchester man was flying a Bell Jetranger chopper when it tipped over, damaging the rotor blade and bringing it smashing down.

Ambulance crews who attended the accident at Southend Airport said they were amazed to see the pilot had emerged from the craft which they said looked like it was “in about a thousand pieces.”

The man, who has not been named, was the only occupant and was on his fourth flight. He was practicing take offs and landings when the incident occurred.

He suffered a serious cut to the back of his head but managed to walk away from the wreckage after coming down just before 3.30pm.

The airport's on-site fire and rescue team were dispatched to the scene and were joined by Essex ambulance crews.

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Paramedic Ian Britten, said: “We cannot put into words how lucky this man has been - when you consider the level of damage to the helicopter against the level of injury, it is just astonishing.

“Both the main and tail rotors had come off along with the skids. The rest of the helicopter had suffered extensive damage.

“Somehow, and we have no idea how, he had managed to get out of the wreckage almost unscathed. “He had a nasty laceration to the back of his head but was otherwise none the worse for wear.”

Essex ambulance's emergency operations centre received a call to the airport at 3.26pm saying that there was only one patient and he was walking wounded.

An ambulance was immediately dispatched and arrived eight minutes later to find the helicopter in pieces.

A spokeswoman for the airport said the pilot had been taking instructions from a tutor when the crash happened.

“He had been cleared to land and was hovering over a grassed area to the north of the runway when the Bell Jetranger tipped over, damaging the rotor blade.”

She added: “The pilot walked away from the disabled helicopter and was taken to Southend Hospital for treatment. This was his fourth supervised solo flight.”

Afterwards the Aircraft Accident Investigation Branch was notified but did not attend the scene.

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