A mechanic who inspected the helicopter that crashed and killed three "Twilight Zone" actors said Thursday that he never realized that the aircraft was going to fly through a fireball and would have advised against it.
Harry Thomas Ferguson also told jurors at the manslaughter trial of the helicopter's pilot and four film makers that he worried about a process called delamination damaging the helicopter's rotors the night of the July, 1982, crash.
He said he climbed atop the helicopter before its last flight to make sure that delamination, in which two parts of the bonded skin on a rotor separate under extreme heat, had not already occurred.
The defense contended that delamination had never before caused a helicopter accident, was unknown to pilots and that the defendants could not have foreseen it or guarded against it.
Ferguson said he was aware that extreme heat, such as a gasoline fireball, could cause such damage to a helicopter rotor.
"I would never subject a main rotor blade or a tail rotor blade to going through a gasoline fireball," he testified. "I would have told Dorcey Wingo that the helicopter should not be flown in a fireball."
Wingo was the pilot of the helicopter that crashed, killing Vic Morrow, 53; Myca Le, 7, and Renee Chen, 6, as Morrow carried the children across a stream during filming of a Vietnam War scene.
Wingo, director John Landis, associate producer George Folsey, production manager Dan Allingham and special-effects supervisor Paul Stewart are on trial on involuntary manslaughter charges.
The prosecution says they were recklessly negligent in preparing the fatal Vietnam War scene in "Twilight Zone: The Movie." The defendants claim that they took every precaution possible.
After Ferguson's testimony, the four-month-old trial went into a holiday recess until Jan. 5.