A helicopter pilot and his friend were killed after their chopper spun out of control and caught fire while landing at McClellan-Palomar Airport Wednesday in Carlsbad, California, officials confirmed.
The pilot was identified as Bruce Allen Erickson, 65, of Rancho Santa Fe. His passenger was identified as Wayne Frank Lewis, 60, of Cardiff by the Sea. Both were confirmed dead at the scene.
Authorities said the pair had been practicing landings when the helicopter's tail hit the ground,.
Video sent to NBC 7 showed the AS350 AStar helicopter after it touched down on the runway at 4:20 p.m. on Wednesday. As its blades continued rotating, the chopper spun round and round for more than a minute before the tail broke off and smoke engulfed it.
According to witnesses, the helicopter continued spinning for another five minutes. When it stopped, both people onboard were dead, Carlsbad Fire officials said.
The airport, located at 2198 Palomar Airport Road, was temporarily closed following the deadly accident. On Thursday morning, officials announced the airport had reopened for helicopter operations amid the NTSB investigation, but the runway remained closed until further notice.
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