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Wed, Jun 26, 2013

Airplane Dropped From Helicopter During Salvage Attempt

Witnesses Said It Appeared The Helo Was Struggling To Stay Airborne

A helicopter engaged in the salvage of a Piper Cherokee that had made an emergency landing about 50 yards from Waiehu Beach on Maui dropped the airplane in the ocean when the helo began struggling with the load.

First the good news. None of the three people on board the Cherokee were injured when they made their off-airport landing, and the salvage helo, which belongs to Pacific Helicopters, also landed safely. But not before some reportedly harrowing moments as the helicopter transported the damaged Piper.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that witnesses told the Maui News that the trade winds were blowing about 20-25 mph during the salvage attempt.  Witness Jacuqes Longworth said the Cherokee appeared to be too heavy for the helo to lift, and that it was "really revving up."

Ivan Bersamin, who lives near the site where the salvage was attempted, said that the airplane was "bobbing left and right" under the helo, and that it appeared it was affecting the helicopters operation. With the helicopter reportedly descending towards the water under its load, the pilot cut the Cherokee loose, and it dropped into the ocean about a half mile offshore where it became partially submerged.

The fate of the Cherokee now rests in the hands of its owner, his insurance company, and possibly the Coast Guard, as it is a potential hazard to navigation.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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