Experimental Helicopter Crash Lands in Midland Park

Experimental Helicopter Crash Lands in Midland Park

MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - A gyrocopter crash landed Monday afternoon in Windlands Park after taking off from Midland Airpark on a test run, officials said.

Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter and the unidentified pilot were the only two people aboard the small, experimental helicopter.

Painter said he suffered no visible injuries and did not require hospital treatment, while the pilot was transported to a nearby hospital for "minor back pain."

"We took off from [Midland] Airpark, made a right-hand turn... and [the aircraft] just lost lift," Painter told NewsWest 9. "It was too heavy and it went down."

He said they unexpectedly lost altitude shortly after taking off around 1 p.m. due to "a lack of air in the back propeller."

Officials are investigating the cause of the crash and have yet to determine whether factors such as wind conditions, speed or structural deficiencies in the gyrocopter played a role.

Painter called the aircraft a "good machine," describing it as "very stout" and "very sturdy." Damage resulting from the crash landing was limited mainly to the front portion of the landing gear, he said, while the inside of the chopper remained intact.

Federal Aviation Administration records list the gyrocopter as "experimental" and "amateur built." The registered owner, Wylie resident Jal Dennis, could not be reached for comment.

Homeowners near the Windlands Park crash site said they were concerned about the proximity of the accident to residential streets.

"I'm really happy no one was hurt, but it could have landed on anyone's house," a resident said.

Another neighbor called the incident "pretty wild" and said it was the first crash landing he had heard about during his three years living near the Airpark.

"It was kind of crazy to think it was so close to the house," he told NewsWest 9.

Officials in Iowa reported a similar gyrocopter crash Sunday night. The experimental aircraft lost altitude, struck a tree and landed in a yard, killing the pilot and injuring his passenger, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office said.