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Helicopter Crash in Redlands Kills Pilot

December 16, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

A Japanese man was killed Monday morning when his helicopter lost power and plummeted an estimated 300 feet onto a street in Redlands.

"There was no communication from the pilot; no radio contact of problems," said Redlands police investigator Rodney Walters. "Witnesses heard the engine cutting out. The engine shut off once, the pilot got it back on, but then [the helicopter] came over and just fell straight down out of the sky with no movement from the blades. They just collapsed upward as the helicopter dropped."

The crash occurred at 9:58 a.m. in the 2000 block of West Lugonia Avenue, a two-lane street. The site is less than half a mile north of Interstate 10 and about three-quarters of a mile from the amusement park Pharaoh's Lost Kingdom. The man had rented the helicopter in San Bernardino.

Tomoe Haruyama, president of Mentone-based Doxa Aviation Corp., said she bought the helicopter new for $160,000 two years ago.

Haruyama said she leased it to a flight school, Supersonic Aviation, which kept it at San Bernardino International Airport. The pilot was en route to French Valley Airport, near Murrieta.

A Supersonic Aviation employee at the crash site said the helicopter was well maintained and the pilot had a license to fly fixed-wing aircraft and a credential showing more than 60 hours of experience as a helicopter pilot.

Federal aviation officials are investigating the cause of the crash.

The coroner's office has not released the pilot's name.

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