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One killed in helicopter crash near Olalla (UPDATED)

Post by News Tribune Staff on Aug. 17, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
August 17, 2008 4:29 pm

A 68-year-old helicopter pilot was killed Sunday afternoon as he tried to land at a private landing zone near Olalla, Kitsap Sheriff’s officials said.

The man, who was not identified, was trying to land and pick up a passenger in the 12600 block of Banner Road Southeast just before 3 p.m., sheriff’s spokesman Scott Wilson said. But something went wrong, causing him to crash into some trees, setting the craft down near a house, but not damaging the house or hurting anyone on the ground.

"This guy is a hell of a hero," Wilson said of the way the pilot avoided obstacles on the ground. "It looks like he just lost momentum." The cockpit was crushed when the craft rolled, he said.

The pilot took off from Bremerton National Airport in a Robinson R22, which is often used for training student helicopter pilots. He lived near the crash site and had cleared a landing zone on his own property, Wilson said.

"What we don’t know is if it was a mechanical problem or some sort of medical condition," Wilson said.

Witnesses told investigators they heard the engine revving and then a popping noise before the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.

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