TV helicopter crashes in Sao Paulo; pilot killed, cameraman injured

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

TV helicopter crashes in Brazil, pilot killed

SAO PAULO — A television news helicopter crashed near a busy highway in Brazil’s largest city Wednesday, killing the pilot and seriously injuring a cameraman onboard.

The Record TV helicopter was destroyed after crashing on a grassy area next to the track of Sao Paulo’s Jockey Club horse racing complex, a few hundred yards (meters) from heavy traffic on the thoroughfare.

Video from Globo TV showed the aircraft spinning out of control and plummeting to the ground as smoke belched from its engine.

Record TV said the pilot was pronounced dead at a hospital and the cameraman was seriously injured. They were the only two onboard, and no one on the ground was hurt.

The crash happened near the peak morning commute on the Marginal Pinheiros, one of Sao Paulo’s busiest highways.

“The pilot was a hero because he was able to take the helicopter to a clear area, which is not something easy to do in Sao Paulo,” air force Lt. Col. Ricardo Beltran Crespo told O Globo newspaper.

Globo’s helicopter was flying in the same area when it received a distress call from the Record TV chopper.

“The pilot reported a problem and I decided to follow him to see what was going on,” Globo pilot Dato de Oliveira said. “He reported a problem on the tail, which is something rare, but it’s vital in a helicopter.”

Oliveira landed his chopper after the accident and rushed to try to help the victims. He said he turned the fuel pump and the battery off in the downed helicopter to avoid an explosion.

The two helicopters were covering morning traffic and police response to a bank robbery.

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