CARLSBAD, Calif. – UPDATE: The county Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the two men killed in a helicopter crash at McClellan-Palomar Airport late Wednesday afternoon as 65-year-old pilot Bruce Allen Erickson of Rancho Santa Fe and 60- year-old passenger Wayne Frank Lewis of Cardiff-by-the-Sea. The helicopter crashed and caught fire as the pair were practicing landings.
Two people were killed after a helicopter spun out of control and crashed at McClellan–Palomar Airport Wednesday evening, according to authorities.
The single-engine AStar helicopter appeared to be trying to land on a portable landing pad when its tail hit the ground, a witness told FOX 5. Then, the rotors lost control causing the helicopter to spin uncontrollably.
Carlsbad firefighters were called to 2198 Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad around 4:22 p.m. after several witnesses watched the helicopter catch fire after crashing near a hangar, Carlsbad police said. Both people aboard the aircraft died in the crash, according to a NorCom Fire dispatcher.
The circumstances of the crash, which prompted a closure of the airport, were unclear, and the victims’ identities were not released.
Weather does seem to have played a factor in the crash, according to another helicopter pilot who was at the crash site.
“The National Transportation Safety Board is en route and will conduct an investigation into the cause of the crash. We are unable to release details as to the specific type of aircraft or the identities of the passengers at this time,” according to Alex Bell of the County of San Diego.
Carlsbad Fire Department was assisted by crews from Vista, San Marcos and Palomar Airport.