July 2, 2004
A Scottsdale-based charter helicopter crashed and burst into flames Thursday afternoon, leaving its two occupants lucky to be alive, authorities said.
The Westcor Aviation Eurocopter went down around 1:30 p.m. on state trust land near Jomax Road and Tatum Boulevard in northeast Phoenix.
"Those two individuals are very lucky to have been able to get out of that aircraft," said Battalion Chief John Mure of the Phoenix Fire Department. "The helicopter is totally destroyed. It’s hardly recognizable as being a helicopter."
Two men, whose names were not released, were taken to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn hospital with nonlifethreatening injuries, Mure said.
The cause of the crash is unknown. Mure said the pilot radioed Deer Valley Municipal Airport and reported he had problems and was going to make an emergency landing. Shortly after that, the helicopter crashed and caught fire.
"A lot of people were calling in to report there was a fire in the desert," Mure said. "They didn’t realize a helicopter crashed."
Employees at a nearby manufacturing business rushed to the scene in a water truck when they saw smoke.
Derek Auston of Auston Structural Co. said the men didn’t appear to be badly injured.
"They were complaining of back pain, but not much else," he said. "From the way the helicopter looked, I was surprised they survived."
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.
Westcor Aviation, which has operated out of Scottsdale Airport since 1980, offers local tours and shuttles executives around during events such as the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction and FBR Open PGA golf tournament. The company also operates and maintains television station helicopters and air ambulances.
Scott Bowerbank, Westcor Aviation director of operations, was not available Thursday afternoon.