CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) — A helicopter and a single-engine plane collided in midair over suburban Phoenix Friday and the two people aboard the copter died after it crashed into a brush field near a municipal airport, officials said. The flight instructor and a student who were aboard the plane landed safely and were not hurt.
The collision happened in the city of Chandler near Chandler Municipal Airport, which does not have scheduled commercial air passenger service, said police Sgt. Jason McClimans. He said no one on the ground was hurt.
News video showed a firefighting crew using a tarp to cover the helicopter’s burned wreckage in brush on what appeared to be a vacant lot or field near the airport’s southern boundary. The plane was upright at the airport near a runway and its fuselage appeared intact.
The landing gear of the plane, a Piper PA-28, was damaged in the collision but it landed safely, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The helicopter was a Robinson R22, the FAA said.
Richard Bengoa said in an interview that he is the owner of the small Chandler-based aircraft rental company that owns the four-seat plane using mostly for flight training and that the only people aboard were the flight instructor and the student pilot, who authorities said did not need medical attention after the plane landed.
Though officials did not allow Bengoa to get close to the plane, he said it appeared from a distance that the plane’s landing gear had been damaged. He said he had no information about how the collision happened and was not allowed to speak with the flight instructor or the student pilot.
Bengoa described his business as “not quite” a flight school.
“It’s more of a family business to kind of promote aviation and help people get their licenses,” Bengoa said,
The airport was closed, McClimans said. The National Transportation Safety Board will lead the investigation into the cause of the collision and the helicopter crash, said the FAA, which will also participate in the investigation.
Police were seeking witnesses and people who may have videotaped the collision and the crash of the helicopter.