WYOMING — A flight instructor and student pilot climbed out of their helicopter without serious injuries after it crashed Monday afternoon at the Wyoming Valley Airport.
Both men were taken to a local hospital and were expected to be treated and released, said Andy Tuzinski, mayor of Forty Fort and the borough’s emergency management director. The names of the two men were not available.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were sending representatives to the scene, Tuzinski said.
Arlene Salac, an FAA spokeswoman, identified the aircraft as a Robinson R22 helicopter and said the FAA will investigate the crash at the public airport owned by Luzerne County.
The crash happened at approximately 12:50 p.m. as the helicopter was practicing a “touch and go” procedure, Tuzinski said.
Witnesses said they saw the helicopter hovering near the midpoint of the main runway and tip sideways.
“Two people crawled out as I was calling it in,” said Tracey Selingo, of Shavertown. “They just got out and were walking around it.”
Selingo said she was walking on the paved path of the Wyoming Valley Levee that runs parallel to the airport located in Forty Fort and Wyoming and saw the helicopter pass her as it approached from the east.
“It came in straight, and it looked fine,” Selingo said.
Bill McGough, of Edwardsville, had a different vantage point as he was walking his dog, Major, toward Selingo from the opposite direction.
“It was hovering right there, and the next thing I know it tipped the rotor blades up and grass goes flying,” McGough said.
He also said two people walked out of the copter that rested on its left side on the runway near a windsock.
Fire departments from Forty Fort and Kingston responded as well as local and state police, Tuzinski said.
“Upon arrival we found both occupants of the helicopter had self extricated,” Tuzinski said. Both people were shaken up and taken by ambulance to a hospital for medical treatment.
“I do not expect them to be admitted,” Tuzinski said.
There have been close calls in the past with crash landings. The last fatality was in 1989 when a plane crashed, Tuzinski said.