Baldwin County EMA: Pilot OK after mini-copter crash

Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 1:46 PM CDT
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MAGNOLIA SPRINGS, Ala. (WALA) - The pilot of a small helicopter is reported to be OK following a crash in Magnolia Springs in Baldwin County on Thursday.

Authorities with the Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency said the pilot had taken off in the mini-copter, then had engine trouble and crashed.

Magnolia Springs Volunteer Fire Rescue Chief Kaylan Driskell said the pilot is a hobbyist. He said Collier Airpark, where the crash occurred, is home to private pilots who fly ultralight and other similar experimental aircraft.

“He lifted off and went straight up and immediately, the engine failed,” Driskell told FOX10 News. “It wasn’t clear how high he was, but I understand he wasn’t very high off the ground when it happened. But the engine failed, and he immediately came right back down. And when he landed, I guess he was able to get off of it, but the force of the blade still spinning, possibly, caused the helicopter to flip over and catch fire.”

Driskell said the pilot was fortunate to walk away. He said his medics and a crew from MedStar Ambulance checked him out as a precaution.

“Could have been a lot worse,” he said.

A man who asked not to be identified told FOX10 News that he heard a boom and came to help. He said he grabbed a fire extinguisher but that the fire burned quickly – so quickly, in fact, that it burned up before firefighters arrived.

“It’s incredible how hot that gets,” he said. “There is nothing left in there.”

Tim Hogeland, who lives in a nearby RV park, said he did not see the crash but added that helicopters frequently fly in the area.

“I seen him come from over that way, and I seen him come across, and I just thought he was landing as usual,” he said. “And then somebody told me he crashed.”

The wreckage now has been removed, and the National Transportation Safety Board reportedly is going to investigate the crash.

Updated at 5:13 p.m. to include more information.