Thursday, August 7, 2008

Copter crash-lands after Buckley base refuses to help

The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Aug 7, 2008 11:43:03 EDT
DENVER — A two-seat civilian helicopter crash-landed Wednesday after the pilot was denied permission to refuel at Buckley Air Force Base, but no one was injured, a passenger said.

Buckley spokesman John Spann said the pilot asked to land at the base in the east Denver suburb of Aurora but was turned away because he did not declare an emergency.

“If he declared an in-flight emergency, then yes, he could come to Buckley and we could have gotten him gas,” Spann said.

Neither the name of the pilot nor the company operating the Engstrom 280FX helicopter could be confirmed.

Freelance photographer Bill Ross, who was on the flight, said he and the pilot had finished a commercial photo shoot near Denver International Airport and were returning to Centennial Airport when the engine sputtered and stopped.

The helicopter dropped about 400 feet but landed upright, with heavy damage, Ross said.

“I’m surprised we’re still alive,” he said. “Alarms start going off and red lights start flashing, and I said, ‘What does that mean?”’

The pilot replied, “We’re going to crash,” and Ross said, “Well, crash this thing right.”

Ross said the pilot had told him he was low on fuel. Allen Kenitzer of the Federal Aviation Administration said the cause of the crash is under investigation.

Kenitzer said the helicopter is registered to Beacon Aviation in the Denver suburb of Lakewood. No phone listing could be located for Beacon.

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