Chopper Pilot Nearly Becomes Eligible for Darwin Award
According to a report on the helicopter site VTOLBLOG, the man made an emergency landing on an uninhabited island in the Florida Keys last Saturday to examine the tail rotor, which he suspected was experiencing mechanical problems.
From the NTSB initial report:
After landing, he reduced the throttle to “70 percent,” exited the helicopter, and began a visual inspection as the helicopter continued to run.
Remember the part in the last sentence when it said the throttle was at 70% when he hopped out? Yeah, without the weight of the pilot, and without securing the collective, that was enough for the chopper to lift off again by itself.
During the inspection, the helicopter initiated a takeoff, which the pilot could not arrest from outside the cockpit. The helicopter climbed to approximately 150 feet altitude and flew about 1,800 feet before it descended and collided with water.
The pilot apparently attempted to climb back into the chopper as it floated off the ground, but was forced to let go over water, possibly from as high as 50 feet, which is how he broke his arm.
Captain Awesome (his real name has not been released) was rescued by a passing boat, while the seven-year-old helicopter will be fished out by the Coast Guard. Perhaps he went to flight school with this guy: