Pilots Escape Uninjured After Mid-Air Collision Between Small Plane and Helicopter

Footage of a mid-air collision between a plane and a helicopter shows just how lucky its pilots were to walk away from the crash.
Jessica Miley

Footage of a potentially fatal collision that happened last September has just been released. According to the video’s description, the mid-air accident happened on September 23, 2017, about 5:15 PM EDT.

A single-engine Piper PA-28R-201 airplane, N1881H, and a Robinson R22 helicopter, N44TB, made contact while flying over the runway at the Clearwater Air Park (“CLW”), Clearwater, Florida. The private-rated pilot, the sole occupant onboard the plane received only minor injuries, and the flight instructor and a pilot-rated student onboard the helicopter were miraculously unscathed. 

Both aircraft were owned and operated by Tampa Bay Aviation. According to the two pilots in the helicopter, they alerted the pilot of the plane that they were occupying runway 34 but received a response from the fixed-wing plane's pilot that was ineligible. 

They continued doing training exercises close to the runway and did not see the plane again until they felt it make the impact. The pilot of the plane reported that they heard a barely distinguishable call including the words ‘34’ and a heavy buzzing sound like a helicopter rotor. 

They believed their response was received and proceeded with their takeoff down the runway. They did not see the helicopter hovering above runway 34 until it was too late to avoid the collision. 

Examination by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that both aircraft sustained substantial damage. A thorough examination of the radio communication system in the airplane and helicopter did not show any signs of malfunction.