Both pilots were able to walk away from a mid-air collision that brought a plane and a helicopter down on Sunday. The aviation accident occurred on Sunday evening between Sacramento and San Francisco. Despite significant damage to the helicopter, the pilot was only shaken up after coming down in a field a few miles outside of the nearest airport. The pilot of the airplane, a single-engine plane, was able to fly the craft 20 miles south before coming down near Byron Airport. The fact that no one was seriously injured in a mid-air collision was incredibly fortunate.
The helicopter came to rest in an empty field. Its tail rotor came down almost 50 feet away from the main body of the vehicle. The collision apparently caused the tail rotor to be severed from the helicopter’s fuselage. The pilot would have had no choice but to get the helicopter on the ground, and very quickly, without a functioning tail rotor.
There is no word yet on what caused the two aircraft to collide. Pilot error and equipment failure are likely culprits in any mid-air collision. The two vehicles should never have come close to a collision. One or both vehicles should have had ample time to adjust their course to avoid an accident. The party or parties responsible should be thankful that the failure did not cause a fatal accident.
Smaller craft are involved in many more crashes than airliners. The relative inexperience of pilots and the lack of oversight may contribute to the safety records of small planes and helicopters. Anyone flying in or on one of these vehicles should make sure that every precaution is being taken to ensure a safe flight.
Source: CNN, “Lucky to be alive: 2 survive midair collision,” by Greg Morrison and Stephanie Gallman, 20 February 2012