Opa-Locka, FL Helicopter Collision, Jan 1979
FIVE KILLED IN U.S. HELICOPTER COLLISION.
Opa-Locka, Fla. (AP) -- A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and a smaller, private helicopter collided during practice flights above a busy general aviation airport Wednesday. All five people aboard the two aircraft were killed.
"It was just an incredible ball of fire," said eyewitness Chuck LaBow, a pilot for the Goodyear
blimp, which is based at the airfield but was not involved in the accident. "I saw the wreckage hitting the ground .... it was totally englufed in flames when it hit the ground."
Two piles of debris remained at midday. Both were covered with fire-fighting foam applied by airport firemen after the flaming aircraft spun to the ground.
Two officers and two enlisted men were aboard the coast guard helicopter. Bob Ott, owner of the Burnside-Ott flying school which operated the other craft, said one person -- a male flying student -- was aboard the second helicopter.
Identities of the victims were withheld pending notification of relatives.
Ott said the student was practicing take-offs and landings with an instructor watching from the ground.
"As he rose to 200 feet, the coast guard helicopter descended on top of him," Ott said.
Ott quoted the instructor, whom he refused to identify, as saying that the coast guard helicopter apparently was practicing a powerless descent at the time of the collision.
Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba 1979-01-18
Coast Guard Casualties.
Lt. ROBERT G. AUSNESS.
Lt. ROBERT C. SHEARER, JR.
AM1 ROBERT E. McCLAIN.
AD3 JEFFREY B. CASE.