Tour copter makes rough landing
HILO » A tour helicopter owned by K&S Helicopters Inc. made a hard landing in an abandoned pasture several miles uphill from the Hilo Medical Center yesterday afternoon, causing moderate injuries to the pilot and four passengers.
Fire rescue personnel found the McDonnell Douglas 369E model on its left side, where it rolled after hitting some brush, officials said. The pilot and all four passengers left the aircraft on their own and were walking around when rescuers arrived.
All five suffered some injuries, the department said, but it did not give details. They were treated on site and taken to Hilo Medical Center for further treatment.
Police reported that none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening. None of the names of those involved were released.
The pilot told fire personnel that he lost power in the aircraft about five minutes into the flight from Hilo Airport and was trying to return when he went down.
K&S operates out of Kona as Paradise Helicopters and out of Hilo as Tropical Helicopters. Fire rescue personnel identified the aircraft as belonging to Paradise.
Owner Calvin Dorn could not be reached for comment.
Fire officials said they received the alarm at 2:47 p.m. and reached the scene at 3:26 p.m.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor in Los Angeles put the landing site at six miles west, or uphill, from the airport.
Later in the afternoon, the aircraft was barely visible through binoculars about a mile from the home of Steven Garcia and his retired father, Charlie. Garcia said the land was operated until about five years ago as the J7 Ranch on leased state land.
No one at the house heard or saw the helicopter go down, Garcia said.
The FAA identified the type as an MD 369E, the same as a Hughes 500.
K&S has had several prior accidents and "incidents." The FAA defines an incident as one in which there is no death or serious injury and no substantial damage.
In 2006 a Hughes MD 500E owned by Tropical made a hard landing on the runway of Hilo Airport after traveling just 173 feet during a morning takeoff. Two women were on board with their husbands. Both women were treated for minor injuries.
In 2003 a Hughes 500D helicopter owned by the company crashed in the coastal lava area of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, killing the pilot and three passengers.
In 2001 a Bell 206 JetRanger operated by the company filled with smoke and made an emergency landing in a field south of Hilo. The pilot and four passengers escaped, but the aircraft burned.