Latest Victims Not Even Flying The Damned Thing
04.01.06 'Special' Edition: The trouble-prone
Mini 500 homebuilt helicopter has claimed its latest in a long line
of victims: newlywed married couple Vince and Edna Larkin, who were
walking out of Wendell's Restaurant and Lounge in Mokelumne Hill,
CA Thursday evening.
"We had just sung some karaoke, had a few brews, that sort of
thing," said Vince Larkin. "I was holding the door open for Edna --
hey, it's our honeymoon, it's the least I could do -- when
suddenly, I hear this creaking noise. I look up... and that's when
the helicopter fell on me."
The helicopter in question is a Mini 500 homebuilt helicopter,
placed over the main entry to Wendell's several years ago.
Now something of a local legend, no one is sure how the
helicopter ended up on the roof -- but the most commonly accepted
story is the previous operator managed to barely land on the
roof after an unspecified engine failure, then simply counted
his blessings and walked away from the scene, never to be heard
The Mini 500 (seen below in happier times, albeit perched
somewhat ominously) fell on Larkin just as his wife walked through
the door. Vince Larkin absorbed most of the initial impact, with
the left landing skid catching him on his right arm, resulting in a
dislocated elbow. His wife suffered minor cuts and bruises.
Witnesses say the Larkins were lucky it was a Mini 500 on the
roof, and not a Schweizer or Robinson.
"That thing was already breaking apart on the way down and it
was busted all to smithereens by the time it hit them," said one
The NTSB is on the scene to look into this latest incident
involving the troubled Mini 500, which has been involved in the
better part of 100 accidents/incidents, resulting in more than a
dozen fatalities -- so far.
Investigators are focusing on bird droppings found on the main
rotor blade which may indicate a medium to large bird landed on the
blade, causing the blade mount to fail under the added stress.
The resulting shift forward of the copter's center of
gravity likely tipped the helicopter onto the hapless
restaurant patrons, according to the NTSB.