Newhall, CA Airwolf Helicopter Crash, Jan 1985


Newhall, Calif. (AP) -- A helicopter crash during filming of CBS-TV's "Airwolf" killed actor Jan-Michael Vincent's stunt double and injured the pilot, 10 miles south of where a "Twilight Zone" movie chopper mishap claimed the lives of actor Vic Morrow and two children in 1982.
Film crew members managed to rescue the pilot but Vincent's double -- second-generation stuntmen REID RONDELL -- was still in the mangled craft when it burst into flames Friday.
Pilot SCOTT MEHER, 46, of Los Angeles, flown by air ambulance to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, was in fair condition with a concussion and abrasions, nursing supervisor Rose Morelli said.
"Members of the crew rushed over and pulled out the pilot, then the helicopter burst into flames. The stuntmen was still inside," said Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman Jeff Myers.
Friday morning's crash occurred near a building at the Sun Oil Refinery in rugged Pico Canyon, 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Its cause was under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board. Ben Halprin, vice president of Universal Television, said it wouldn't halt production of "Airwolf."
The site had been rented to Universal Studios and Belisarius Productions Inc., co-producers of the action drama that stars Vincent and Ernest Borgnine as private pilots who also work for a secret government agency. They use a high-tech, jet-powered, gun and rocket equipped helicopter called "Airwolf" -- in real life a modified Bell 222.
Neither actor was on the set when MEHER'S helicopter, one of two participating in a dogfight-and-chase scene, crashed into a grassy knoll.
The crash occurred as the Bell 205 helicopter in which RONDELL was a passenger made its third pass through a canyon, swooping down to within 200 feet of the ground.
It was the first accident in the show's two-season history, said Ray Holt, a still photographer employed by the series.
Stuntman David Ellis said RONDELL, who acted as Vincent's stunt double, was "one of the most talented kids in the business."
RONDELL'S father was stunt coordinator for dozens of movies and TV shows and his brother holds a similar job for the TV show "T.J. Hooker."

Progress Clearfield Pennsylvania 1985-01-19