Single-Engine Plane and Helicopter Collide Mid-Air Leaving 2 Dead

by Matthew Memrick

A mid-air collision between a helicopter and a single-engine airplane in Arizona resulted in two deaths early Friday morning.

Officials recovered the helicopter’s two victims in a brush field near the Chandler Municipal Airport outside Phoenix. The Associated Press noted that an instructor and student on the plane landed safely without injuries.

However, Chandler Police Sgt. Jason McClimans said no one on the ground was hurt. The Arizona airport does not have a scheduled commercial air passenger service and is 17 miles from Phoenix’s main airport.

Fatal Arizona Collision Aftermath 

Soon after, the Chandler Fire Department responded to a field fire nearby before 8 a.m. 

Later, a TV video showed firefighters using a tarp to cover the burned helicopter. Video showed the single-engine airplane near a runway.

The Federal Aviation Administration officials said the landing gear of the Piper PA-28 was damaged, but the plane safely landed. The agency reported that the helicopter was a Robinson R22.

Further, a local TV station interviewed plane owner Richard Bengoa after the accident. Bengoa said his small Chandler-based aircraft rental company, Flight Operations Academy, owned the four-seat plane. Quantum Helicopters operated the helicopter. According to McClimans, both are Chandler police flight schools. 

Bengoa said the only people aboard were the flight instructor and the student pilot. Both individuals did not need medical attention after the accident.

The owner observed the damaged landing gear from a distance. Officials would not let him get close to the plane. Conversely, Bengoa could not speak about the accident’s specifics and talk with the plane’s occupants.

Bengoa said his Arizona company was “not quite” a flight training operation, stating it was more like a “family business to kind of promote aviation and help people get their licenses.”

Airport Closed

After the accident, Chandler Police closed the airport. According to the FAA, National Transportation Safety Board officials were investigating the crash and its cause with help from the agency. 

Police were seeking eyewitnesses and video footage of the collision and crash. CBS 5 also spoke with pilot Jared Pope after the accident. Pope heard the collision and watched as the helicopter spiraled to the ground.

Most of the Chandler Municipal Airport flights there are for chartered trips, private excursions, and training.

As one of the nation’s busiest general aviation airports, the city’s tourism office said more than 200,000 yearly flights go through the airport.

Dodge City Community College in Kansas operated one of the airport’s training programs. Further, the school’s website said it would contact the appropriate families connected to the helicopter crash and its DC3 Flight Instructor Program.

Officials also did not mention any ties to a specific training program.