Chopper crashes into surf - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Chopper crashes into surf

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A helicopter drops from the sky right into the surf in a section of MacArthur Beach State Park.

The injured pilot is in serious condition at St. Mary's Medical Center. Now, it's up to investigators to figure out why the chopper went down.

Investigators believe the R-22 Beta Helicopter made what's being called an "emergency landing" at MacArthur Beach State Park just after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The pilot, James Kvilhaug of Miramar, had taken off from Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport.

Dozens of rescuers reached the remote section of the beach using the same access points they used to retrieve military flares several days ago. "It was definitely beneficial to the pilot of the aircraft because we saved many minutes getting to him and getting him to the hospital," says Captain Scott Raynor, Palm Beach Gardens Fire-Rescue.

Palm Beach Gardens Fire-Rescue says the pilot was alone in the chopper. It's unclear how much time he spent in the water.

The aircraft was manufactured by Silver State Helicopters of North Las Vegas. Now, the investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are trying to figure out why it went down. "We do have many people who have private helicopters and airplanes and things of that sort in our area, so it does happen several times during the course of a year."

Rescuers say, this time, the pilot was fortunate. "Anytime anybody comes out of the air alive, it's always a good thing."

We spoke with the vice-president of training operations for Silver State Helicopters by phone after the crash occurred. He tells us Kvilhaug was a student pilot and says the chopper may have suffered some sort mechanical malfunction.

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