U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter crash-lands mid-training, both pilots walk away unharmed


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter crash-landed at a metro municipal airport Wednesday afternoon and, miraculously, the two pilots walked away unharmed.

“They had some type of a malfunction and the helicopter went down,” said Oklahoma City Fire Batt. Chief Benny Fulkerson.

What went wrong is now under investigation.

Crews were called to the Clarence Page Municipal Airport around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, and when they arrived, the helicopter was little more than a smoldering mass.

“It was already essentially burned all the way down to the frame,” Fulkerson said.

The pilots were a safe distance away from the damaged aircraft with no serious injuries.

“They did indicate that the helicopter was on fire before it even hit the ground. To what extent, we don’t know,” Fulkerson said.

William Avery, the Deputy Director of the National Air Training Center, a division of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, said it was an AS350 conducting a training mission. The helicopter left Will Rogers Airport at some point during the day, but he did not know whether it was landing at or taking off from the airport.

“One of our locally assigned instructor pilots was doing a pilot and command initial training syllabus, so for one of the pilots from the southwest border,” Avery said.

CBP officials said the pilot who was training is already very experienced, but was halfway through his initial training with Border Protection.

Going forward, Border Protection, the NTSB and the FAA will investigate the crash.

“Unfortunate again that we lost an aircraft, but we’re very fortunate that the instructor was skilled enough to deal with the situation and that they were both able to get out safely,” Avery said.

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