CLEARWATER — The owner of Tampa Bay Aviation said he is relieved no one was seriously hurt after one of the flight school’s helicopters crashed at Clearwater Airpark.
The Robinson, R-22 helicopter belonging to the flight school crashed Feb. 19 as its pilot performed take off, landing and taxiing maneuvers at the small, municipal airport on Hercules Drive.
“We’re grateful neither the pilot nor the passenger was hurt seriously,” said Zack Taylor, president and chief helicopter pilot for Tampa Bay Aviation.
A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report stated that the crash occurred around 5 p.m. as a flight instructor in the skid-equipped helicopter demonstrated a slow-speed, taxiing maneuver for his student.
According to the accident report, the instructor, Bart Aarsse of Palm Harbor, was air-taxiing at about 5 knots with the helicopter slightly above the ground near the end of the runway. As he turned toward a grassy area, the toe of the right skid stubbed the uneven ground. The helicopter then “pivoted around the toe and rolled onto its side,” the report said.
The Clearwater Fire Department said the pilot and passenger suffered only minor injuries.
“My student and I exited the helicopter and checked for injuries,” Aarsse told the NTSB in an after-incident phone interview.
The helicopter, worth between $150,000 and $200,000 suffered substantial damage to the fuselage and rotor systems.
“The pilot reported that there were no pre-impact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation,” the NTSB said in its report.