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Copter Pilot Killed in Collision With Small Plane Near Miami

September 01, 1987|Associated Press

OPA LOCKA, Fla. — A helicopter and small airplane collided Monday near a regional airport northwest of Miami, killing the helicopter's pilot and showering debris over morning rush-hour traffic.

The two-seat Cessna 152 lost its propeller and front wheel in the collision, but its flight-instructor pilot managed to glide to a crash landing at the busy Opa Locka Airport. He and his passenger, a student, walked away with only slight injuries, authorities said.

The helicopter pilot, identified as student pilot Keiki Nakajima, 27, died at the scene after his craft went into a spin and smashed into a vacant field, police said. He was flying solo.

Both pilots were apparently practicing touch-and-go landings, airport authorities said.

There were no reported injuries among motorists, despite broken glass scattered down a half-mile stretch of Red Road.

The airport, which also serves as an air base for the U.S. Coast Guard's 7th District, is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the nation.

Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigators said they couldn't immediately speculate on the accident's cause.

The Cessna instructor, 28-year-old Julio Cesar Bedoya, said the Opa Locka tower had given him and his student, Hernando Lozado, 33, permission to land. "The tower did not tell me about any helicopters," he said.

NTSB investigator Jeff Kennedy said an air traffic control specialist from the federal agency's Washington headquarters would interview the control tower personnel about the collision.

Roger Myers of the FAA regional office in Atlanta said both pilots were talking to the control tower when they collided. Both were coming in for landings; the plane at a runway and the helicopter at an adjacent grassy field.

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