A GUST of wind is believed to have caused a helicopter to flip on to its side at the Moruya Airport yesterday morning.
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 tail rotor to hit the tarmac. The chopper then spun and landed on its side.
Bobby Meek, a baggage handler, witnessed the accident and rushed 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.
“In 40 seconds it was all over with. It just happened really quick.”
During the incident, about 20 litres of fuel spilled onto the ground, which the NSW Fire Brigade soaked up with a foam blanket, according to Moruya fire captain Mark Gould.
He 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 the wrecks not to be moved until after they investigate the incident further to determine the cause.
However, an instructor at Moruya Aero Club, Sheldon Jones, said that 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,” Mr Jones explained.
Mr Brown said he was impressed with the response time of the emergency services.
“After the triple-0 call, the police and ambulance arrived within 10 minutes, and the Fire Brigade and Rural Fire Service within 20. It was all safe and secure within 30 minutes,” he said.
THE disused Huskisson airstrip became a makeshift workshop on Monday afternoon, after a Navy Sea King helicopter landed for emergency maintenance.
Shortly after midday, the chopper from 817 Squadron responded to an illuminated caution light in the cockpit by making a “precautionary landing” in Huskisson.
A Defence spokesperson described the landing as “safe and unhurried”, and said the crew had operated according to the Navy’s standard operating procedures.
The Sea King was flown to the Naval Air Station in Nowra for repairs, after being assessed as serviceable by a team of technicians.
It’s the second time this type of aircraft has made an unplanned landing in the Shoalhaven over the past two years.