Private helicopter crashes, injuring pilot and two passengers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 June, 2005, 12:00am

Three people were injured yesterday when a private helicopter crashed in a Sai Kung field just a minute after taking off.

The accident happened in Pak A Village, High Island, when the Top Jet Aviation Robinson R44 - thought to be the only one in Hong Kong and worth about $3 millon - was starting its journey back to the Kai Tak heliport after a tour of Hong Kong.

'After reaching about 20 feet [6 metres] above ground, it rotated a few times and hit the ground,' said one of the passengers, Mr Tam.

Firefighters had to cut off a door and the top of the helicopter to rescue those inside. The injured were airlifted to Eastern Hospital.

The male pilot, 45, was in serious condition. Mr Tam's wife, 46, and another woman, 50, were in stable condition.

After inspecting the site, Director-General of Civil Aviation Norman Lo Shung-man said investigators would take several days to thoroughly examine the wreckage.

'Looking at the present situation, we will not be able to take the helicopter away tonight,' he said.

'Tomorrow, we will send more people out to disassemble the parts and take them back for a detailed investigation.

'As for the rest of the wreckage, we will liaise with other departments to study the best way to take it away and put it in another place so that it can be examined in a more secure environment.'

The department later said it was the first accident involving a private helicopter in two years, and noted the area was not an appropriate location for a helicopter to land.

The four-seat helicopter is US-made and can reach 210km/h. It is owned by a group of aviation enthusiasts, according to the Aviation Club.

Club president Alex Yan Tak-chung said: 'The pilot has 200 hours of flying experience.

'Although he got his licence a year ago, he has been flying a number of hours every month regularly and therefore, in our opinion, he is a very skilled pilot.'