A gust of wind caused a helicopter to fly out of control and land on its side at Moruya Airport yesterday morning.
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Miraculously, the pilot, a middle aged man, escaped unharmed.
After filling the aircraft with fuel, he went to take-off when a sudden gust of wind forced the helicopter backward, causing the back rotor to hit the tarmac. The chopper then spun and landed on its side.
Bobby Meek, a baggage handler, witnessed the accident, and was the first to rush to the pilot’s aid.
“It’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said.
“I did the wrong thing, to be honest, because I ran up there. I had to get him out. But once I saw him moving, I knew he was alright.”
Mr Meek said he didn’t have enough time to think once it happened.
“In 40 seconds it was all over with. It just happened really quick.”
About 20 litres of fuel spilled onto the ground during the incident. NSW Fire Brigades soaked it up with a foam blanket, Moruya fire captain Mark Gould said.
After the wrecked aircraft was taken away, they cleaned the scene completely and covered the ground to ensure the fuel vapours were contained.
The airport’s manager, Jim Brown, said the Aviation Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) allowed the aircraft to be removed within an hour of the incident.
The ATSB investigates aircraft crashes, and often requests wrecks not be moved until after they investigate further to determine the cause.
However an instructor at Moruya Aero Club, Sheldon Jones, said because the cause of the accident was obvious and no one was seriously injured, ATSB didn’t need to attend the scene.
“Once they’re satisfied that they’ve got all the information they need, then everything can be removed (from the scene),” Mr Jones explained.
Mr Brown said he was impressed with the response time of the emergency services.
“After the 000 call, the police and ambulance arrived within 10 minutes, and the Fire Brigades and Rural Fire Service within 20. It was all safe and secure within 30 minutes,” he said.