Two killed in helicopter crash at Palomar Airport identified - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Two killed in helicopter crash at Palomar Airport identified

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CARLSBAD (CBS 8/CNS) - A pilot and a passenger killed in a fiery helicopter crash at McClellan-Palomar Airport were identified Thursday.

Bruce Allen Erickson, 65, of Rancho Santa Fe and his 60-year-old passenger, Wayne Frank Lewis of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, died as a result of a crash and fire that occurred as they were practicing landings at the general-aviation facility on Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad shortly before 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to the county Medical Examiner's Office.

The Airbus AS350 helicopter's tail hit the ground as it approached the landing pad. The body of the chopper then hit the ground, spun out and went up
in flames, authorities said.

Emergency crews were still extinguishing the resulting fire a half-hour later, according to North County Dispatch.

The crash prompted a closure of the single-runway airport.

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were summoned to the accident site following the crash, according to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.

In a briefing Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said they still do not know if the crash was mechanical failure or pilot error that caused the helicopter to spin out of control killing two men.

According to the NTSB, the Astar helicopter is an advanced aircraft and requires an experienced pilot to fly it. They are still reviewing witness videos.

Flight instructor Perry Kagan was on the north side of the runway recording on his cellphone as the Astar helicopter spun out of control for about six minutes.

Right before the explosion, the tail broke off flying across the runway.

The airport remains closed, but is expected to re-open by midday Thursday.

The NTSB returned to the scene of the crash landing on Thursday morning to continue their investigation.

The helicopter will also be removed for further investigation.

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