Helicopter crashes at Jefferson City airport

Happened just before 2 p.m. Saturday

Jefferson City police officers stand by the cockpit of a Navy Seahawk helicopter as fire crews check the scene after the aircraft was damaged in an “aggressive emergency landing” Saturday at Memorial Airport.

Jefferson City police officers stand by the cockpit of a Navy Seahawk helicopter as fire crews check the scene after the aircraft was damaged in an “aggressive emergency landing” Saturday at Memorial Airport. Photo by Deborah Cote.

Authorities are investigating the cause for a helicopter crash at the Jefferson City Memorial Airport on Saturday afternoon.

The crash occurred just before 2 p.m.

The aircraft reportedly got up to about 25-30 feet in the air before coming down on one of the runways.

Reports from the Jefferson City Fire Department indicate this was a military helicopter that was on it's way to San Diego and had stopped to refuel in Jefferson City.

They said this was a Navy Seahawk that only had 20 hours of flight service.

Authorities later said the helicopter cost $38 million.

Fire Chief Bob Rennick said it was his understanding that the chopper was being taken from a Lockheed Martin facility in New York, where it was built.

Witnesses told reporters that the helicopter had taken off with no problem , but shortly afterwards the rear rotor appeared to have malfunctioned, causing the chopper to come back down onto the runway. The rear section of the helicopter appeared to have the brunt of the damage.

Authorities said the pilot lost power to the tail rotor and was forced to make a “aggressive emergency landing.”

“From what I’m being told, very few have walked away from such an accident,” Rennick said.

Three Naval personnel were on board at the time of the crash. Authorities said it was a veteran crew and all had logged numerous hours of flying time.

The serviceman who was sitting in the rear of the chopper, which took the brunt of the crash, was taken to a local hospital for treatment of a fractured vertebra in his back.

Another crew member also was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor cuts and scrapes.

He later returned to the airport to assist the pilot, who was not hurt, to go over the crashed aircraft and make sure that any sensitive equipment on board was secured.

The chopper was not part of an airshow that was taking place Saturday afternoon at the airport.

Air traffic into the airport was shut down for about two hours.

Crews from Fort Leonard Wood were called up to get the fuel out of the chopper.

Authorities said the chopper would eventually be moved to one of the hangers at the airport.

Military authorities, not the FAA, will handle the investigation of the crash.

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