Big Island tour helicopter spun uncontrollably before crash landing, preliminary report says
A preliminary report on the helicopter crash that injured six people on the Big Island this month found that the aircraft experienced a “violent upset” before spinning uncontrollably and landing in a lava field.
The tour left the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport around 5 p.m. on June 8 for a tour around the island, according to the National Transportation Safety Board draft report released on Wednesday.
It experienced trouble 30 minutes into the flight. A passenger on the Paradise Helicopters tour saw something fall off the aircraft as it descended, but she was unable to identify the part.
Investigators at the crash site found the tail boom more than 700 feet away from the rest of the wreckage.
Photos taken by rescuers showed the crunched Bell 407 helicopter lying on its side in the barren lava field with its nose partially detached and some of its blades bent at odd angles.
The pilot and all five passengers were injured.
In a statement, Paradise Helicopters chairman Calvin Dorn said all of its Bell 407 aircraft have been voluntarily grounded out of an abundance of caution.