Jeff Milam of Trussville and Mark Darren of Knoxville had just survived a crash that downed Darren’s 2007 Rotorway Exec 162 helicopter.
“What now?” Milam said. “Life.”
Milam said they will head back to the St. Clair County Airport in Pell City where they had flown out of nearly all day long. From there, they will go out to dinner and talk about a crash, a crash they will never forget.
“We didn’t know each other until two weeks ago,” Milam, who took control of the aircraft, said after it stalled out at about 1,500 feet in the air.
“Thanks, friend,” Milam joked.
Darren said he just didn’t know what happened.
“The engine just quit,” Darren said. “I just don’t understand why it quit.”
He only bought the experimental helicopter two weeks ago.
Darren said the entire episode was quick and only lasted about 20 seconds.
The engine started back up after Milam took control of the aircraft. The helicopter instructor was able to temporarily get control of the 1,500 pound helicopter before it reached the ground.
The forward motion of the helicopter, as Milam was performing an emergency landing, tore off the right skid, and the helicopter turned on its side before coming to a complete stop.
Technicians with a pair of wreckers from B and S Towing and Recovery in Lincoln worked to right the craft.
One of the recovery workers, Shane St. John, said he had never recovered a helicopter before, but during training to become a certified technician, it is required to do.
“Now they’re waiting for the FAA who will work with the Lincoln police and tell us what to do,” he said.
FAA officials were not expected to arrive at the accident site for their investigation until Sunday morning.
Lincoln firefighters say they received the emergency call at about 5:58 p.m., Saturday to a field behind 450 Eastland Hills in the Eastland Shores subdivision.
Bill Bearden, who lives on the lake side of the Eastland Shores development, said he noticed a helicopter making an unusual maneuver over the trees as he came in late Saturday afternoon.
Rick Sanford and his wife, Prissy, were in the back of their home adjacent to the crash site when they heard a loud engine noise.
“I said it sounded like a plane crashed,” Mrs. Sanford said.
When Sanford looked out and saw the craft on its side on the ground, he ran to the scene to see what he could do.
As Sanford made his way to the crash, he noticed a woman going across the field to the site before him.
“When I got there, they were already out and walking around,” Sanford said. “I was glad to see they were OK.”
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