Chopper giving rides at SLC fair crashes - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Chopper giving rides at SLC fair crashes

ST LUCIE COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - A day at the fair turned into a frightening ordeal for three people in St. Lucie County. They were flying in a helicopter that gives rides at the fair when it suddenly crashed around three p.m. Saturday. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Investigators are crediting the pilot's skill for saving everyone on board.

"It sounded like he was having engine trouble or something," said fair worker Scott Smith.

Smith, who works with Murphy Brothers, was walking back to the fair from his break when he saw the helicopter fall out of the sky, crashing just southwest of the fairgrounds.

"When I looked up, he was heading straight down toward the ground," Smith said. "About 10 feet before the ground, he pulled it straight up, landed hard, but landed on the rudders there and it just all fell apart."

The pilot, Brian Hall, with Ohio Helicopters, told St. Lucie County Sheriff's deputies that the fuel pressure light came on when they were about 200 feet in the air, then the engine sputtered and died. Hall managed to bring the chopper down without power. The hard landing broke the tail rotor into several pieces; however, Hall and his passengers were unhurt.

"All pilots are trained on autorotation," said Major Mike Monahan with the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office. "Depending on how high they are in the air and their speed, they can put a helciopter down on the ground. I would say this pilot's done a good job of putting it on the ground."

"I was glad to see that the people were OK," said Smith. "I didn't know how hard they hit, but they hit hard."

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration out of Orlando were on the scene late Saturday afternoon investigating the accident. St. Lucie County Sheriff's deputies do not expect to file any charges.

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