Helicopter crashes at Lake Charles Regional

A helicopter crashed on the runway at Lake Charles Regional Airport. The small aircraft was a Robinson 22.

Lake Charles' Commander of the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, says that the incident happened around after 10:30pm. The pilot has been identified as a student of Performance Helicopters, LLC.  After contacting the pilot, he noted that he was in a stabilized hover about to take off.

As a precautionary measure, he was brought to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital and checked for a variety of injuries.  I caught up with him outside of the hospital and asked just what went wrong.  The student told me that he was in constant contact with his instructor. He had radioed the instructor to inform him of his take-off but felt the aircraft pulling to the right. He did try to correct the problem but was unable to stop the plane from going into a violent spin.  A spin, he noted, violent enough to shake his headphones from his head.  He went on to say that he believes the spin was caused by some type of tail rotor failure however he will let NTSB make that final call.

The runway was visible with circular marks.  We are told that the main rotor blades did not touch the ground at all. The circular marks were caused by the metal landing skids scrapping and digging into the pavement from the spinning helicopter when it touched down. Broken pieces of the tail could also be found.  Officials wouldn't let us get on the runway but they did say that the aircraft belonged to Performance Helicopters, LLC. The company offers private and commercial lessons to would-be pilots.

We received a "no comment" from Casey LeBrun, Manager of Performance Helicopters.

National Transportation and Safety Board are expected to start conducting an investigation Monday.  As for now, the helicopter remains in a hangar.  And the pilot had nothing but high remarks about the school and the Robinson 22 aircraft.

On another note, the pilot and Army Sergeant does hold a private helicopter license and was flying for approximately one hour before his "spin" problem began.  Also, he says as far as experience: 200 hrs of airplane, 60 hrs of helicopter and 25hrs of the Robinson 22.

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