Flight school helicopter crashes in Delray

Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

DELRAY BEACH, FL (WFLX) - A flight school helicopter slams into the ground. The crash could have been deadly, but the pilot, Michael Kelch, made a fancy maneuver to lighten the fall.

It happened after the tail section snapped and the windows shattered. Flight instructor Matthew Kelch of West Palm Beach managed to bring the chopper down 3,500 feet in a semi-controlled manner using a maneuver called auto rotation. That's a technique that allows the rotors to keep spinning as the chopper descends.

The student on board, 20-year-old Stephen Lines of Lake Worth, and the instructor left at 1 p.m. Sunday on what's called an instrumental training flight. They were only 10 minutes into the flight when they experienced some type of mechanical issue.

Debbie Sparks manages Palm Beach Helicopter Flight School. She says the failed flight was part of a night time training operation. And the pilot and student felt a strong vibration in the control panel and knew something was wrong.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are now investigating. Sparks says she's not worried about the condition of the helicopter. She's just thankful the flight instructor was able to save his life and his student.

The student suffered no injuries at all. The instructor was treated there at the neighborhood. He did go to Delray Medical Center for another check up. We were not able to contact either for an update on their condition.