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Post Maintenance Ferry Flight is Fatal For Cochise Sheriff Helicopter Crew

Two Killed on Sheriff's Helicopter Returning Home From Glendale Az

Update 1-9-15:  The NTSB has released it's preliminary accident report on this incident. Scroll to bottom of article to read. The full accident report takes approximately 1 year to be released. 

New Year’s Eve turned deadly for the civilian helicopter pilot and mechanic who were on a ferry flight from Glendale Municipal Airport to the Sierra Vista Airport in Cochise County Arizona Wednesday evening.

Cochise is a border county just east of Tucson and Pima County. The county seat is Bisbee and it is also home to the infamous Tombstone Arozona.

The helicopter is operated by the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office but owned by Airwest Helicopters LLC of Glendale Az. Both crew members on board the helicopter were employees of Airwest Helicopters. Airwest Helicopters LLC is based at the Glendale Municipal Airport.

The pilot has been identified as retired Glendale Police Officer Jeff Steele and his passenger as 59 year old mechanic Mark Hansen. The helicopter, known as "Coshise Air" was returning to its home airport in Cochise County after routine maintenance in Glendale.

Retired Glendale Police Officer Jeff Steele was piloting the Cochise Sheriff's helicopter that went down New Year's Eve 2014. He and the mechanic on board, Mark Hansen were fatally injured.

Steele retired from the Glendale Police Department in 2011 after 25 years of service.

The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office was notified of the missing helicopter just before 7pm by officials from Airwest, who stated the helicopter had dropped off radar. Search and Rescue personnel were able to ping the pilot’s cell phone and obtain information on its location. This information was passed on to members of SAR who were in the field searching for the downed aircraft as well as the Benson Fire Department who located the crash site around 9:20 pm.

The following was excerpted for the Cochise County Sheriff's official Facebook Page;

"The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the leasing company shortly before 7:00 pm and advised that they had lost communications with Cochise Air near the Benson area. Tracking software was activated and the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team responded to the general area along with Benson Fire and Medics in an attempt to locate the aircraft.

Search and Rescue personnel were able to trace the cell phone of the pilot which ultimately led to a more narrowed search area south of Interstate 10 outside of Benson. At approximately 9:20 pm, the Benson Fire Department advised that they had located the crash site of Cochise Air and located the two occupants (one pilot and one mechanic) who were deceased at the scene."

Photo of crash scene released by the Cochise County Sheriff's Office.

On 12-31-14 at 9:14 pm the National Weather Service issued an urgent winter storm warning for the mountains and high deserts throughout northern and eastern Arizona. The warning indicated snow levels may be as low as 2,000 feet with rain is expected in the lower elevations and rain turning to snow between 4,000' and 4,500' in elevations.

The elevation for Benson Arizona is 3,586'.

A daylight photo of the helicopter crash scene released by the Cochise County Sheriff's Office.

In at least one photo of the crash scene released by the Sheriff's Department pieces of the aircraft appeared to be covered in fresh snow. What remained of the aircraft was not immediately recognizable as a helicopter.

The Sierra Vista Airport is located approximately 150 nautical miles south east of Glendale Municipal Airport where it is believed the helicopter departed from. Benson is located approximately 45 miles south east of Tucson. The area surrounding the crash site is being described as remote.

The ill-fated helicopter has been identified as a Bell 206L4 registration No. N57AW. This helicopter replaced another Bell Jet Ranger operated by Cochise County when it lost its tail rotor in September of 2014. In that incident the pilot, Larry Pucci, was able to perform an emergency landing near Tombstone Az without injury to himself or the Deputy Sheriff TFO on board.

The Bell Jet Ranger helicopter pictured here was damaged in an emergency landing in September 2014 after losing its tail rotor. The helicopter that crashed New Year's Eve was the replacement helicopter.

Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said in a statement-  "This news leaves me personally, and this organization, with a heavy heart because of the tragic loss of two incredible lives." "We have worked closely with this company and these two individuals since receiving Cochise Air and knowing that they are considered part of Sheriff's Office family makes this so much harder. We send our condolences out to the families of the two people who will truly be missed."

Below is the NTSB Preliminary Accident Report released the second week of January 2015. 

NTSB Identification: WPR15FA072

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation

Accident occurred Wednesday, December 31, 2014 in Benson, AZ

Aircraft: BELL 206, registration: N57AW

Injuries: 2 Fatal.

"This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 31, 2014, at 1710 mountain standard time, a Bell 206 L4, N57AW, collided with terrain 7 miles west of Benson, Arizona. The commercial pilot and pilot rated mechanic were fatally injured, and the helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to N57AW LLC, and operated by Airwest Helicopters as 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 positioning flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on a company visual flight rules flight plan. The flight originated form Glendale, Arizona, at 1550, and was destined for Sierra Vista, Arizona.

The operator reported that the helicopter had not arrived at its destination and that the Sky Connect Tracking System indicated that the helicopter was at a stationary location between Tucson and Benson. The Cochise County Sheriff located the helicopter wreckage about 2030 at the location the Sky Connect system was reporting. The helicopter was fragmented into multiple pieces along a 174-foot-long debris path. Witnesses living in the local area reported hearing a low flying helicopter around the time of the accident, and that the visibility at ground level was very limited, with low clouds and fog."

Las Vegas Police Helicopter Crashes on City Street- Pilot and TFO OK

Pilot Initiates Auto-Rotation After Apparent Engine Failure

Update 1-9-15:  The NTSB released its preliminary accident report on this incident. Please scroll down to bottom of article to read it in its entirety. The complete accident report will not be available for approximately 1 year. 

UPDATE- 1-2-15: The officers who were piloting the helicopter when it went down have been identified as Officer David Callen and Officer Paul Lourenco. Both are flight instructors and each have over 2,200 hours of flight time. See the bottom of this article for a full press release from LVMPD.

Click the 8 News video below to hear the helicopter crew's radio traffic as they are going down. Great job by both officers.

The crew of a Las Vegas Metro Police MD530F patrol helicopter did an excellent job of notifying dispatch that they had an engine out and guiding the helicopter to an auto-rotational landing in the middle of 23rd St between Bonanza and E. Wilson northeast of Downtown Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve.

 The area of Las Vegas where Las Vegas Air Support helicopter went down. Graphic- Mapquest

The area of Las Vegas where Las Vegas Air Support helicopter went down. Graphic- Mapquest

New Years Eve however turned tragic for the pilot and mechanic of a Cochise County (AZ) Sheriff’s Department helicopter that crashed while on a return flight from Phoenix to their home airport in Sierra Vista Arizona.

The Las Vegas Police Helicopter departed the North Las Vegas Airport at 1:22 PM to assist patrol units on an assault call. The helicopter and crew were approximately 7 minutes into their flight when the crew reported mechanical problems at 1:29 PM.

A damaged Las Vegas Metro Police MD530F helicopter sets on 23rd St in Las Vegas after pilot was forced to make an auto-rotational landing. Photo Credit LE Baskow Las Vegas Sun

In this situation the pilot and the TFO have approximately 18-20 seconds to lower the collective and enter an auto-rotation, pick out an emergency landing spot and guide the helicopter to it. That is assuming they were flying at an altitude of at least 500’ agl. By all accounts the LVMPD pilot did an excellent job of dodging power lines, homes and cars to place the helicopter in the middle of the street and avoiding injury to anyone on the ground.

Both officers were transported to University Medical Center for evaluation but their injuries were described as non-life threatening. The helicopter came to rest upright but was substantially damaged as it impacted the street.

After visiting both officers at University Medical Center Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie told media outlets that both crew members were alert and would be “fine.”

N530KK where it came to rest on 23rd Street near Downtown Las Vegas on New Years Eave 2014. The helicopter was purchased in 2010 from MD Helicopters. Both crew members survived. Photo credit John Locher, AP

The MD500 series helicopter is considered by many to be the most crash worthy helicopter ever built. The MD500 earned this legacy during the Vietnam conflict where it was operated primarily by the U.S. Army as a scout helicopter known as the MH-6 Little Bird and the armed variant Ah-6 also sometimes called the “Killer Egg”.

Below is the official statement from Las Vegas Metro Police Department on the incident;

LVMPD Helicopter Makes Emergency Landing

"Today at approximately 1:22 p.m., a LVMPD police helicopter took off from the airport and was assisting patrol units on a battery call in the downtown area. At approximately 1:29 p.m. the air unit was forced to make an emergency landing in the area of 23rd Street and East Wilson Avenue. The helicopter landed on 23rd Street, resulting in damage to the aircraft. The two pilots were transported to UMC where they were treated for minor injuries. The names of the pilots have not been released at this time. This incident is under investigation. All future information regarding this aircraft incident will be released by the FAA and NTSB."

Public records indicate that the LVMPD took delivery of helicopter N530KK from MD Helicopters in June of 2010. The helicopter is equipped with a a 650 shp Rolls Royce 250-C30 turboshaft engine. This more powerful engine coupled with longer rotor blades and an extended tail boom make the 530F MD Helicopter’s finest high-altitude, hot-day performer according to company press releases.

While indications are that this incident was the result of mechanical issues, a LVMPD helicopter crash in September 2012 occurred while the crew was practicing auto-rotational emergency landings at the North Las Vegas Airport. During that incident the helicopter suffered a hard landing and rolled over, causing over $1 million in damage. Both officers survived the 2012 crash as well.

But it is precisely the type of emergency procedures training the crew was practicing in 2012, that allows the crew of the helicopter in yesterday’s crash to survive and walk away with minor injuries. 

Tragedy did strike the LVMPD Air Support Unit in July 2013, Officer David VanBuskirk died after falling from a helicopter hoist cable during a night time rescue mission on Mount Charleston. This incident is still under investigation by the NTSB.

About LVMPD Air Support

The LVMPD Air Support Unit consists of 22 helicopter pilots, 2 tactical flight officers and 4 FAA certified aircraft mechanics.

The fleet consists of one Hughes 500D, three MD 530Fs, one Bell 407, two Bell UH1N Hueys, and a Cessna Skylane 182. The Air Support Unit operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and flies 6,000 hours annually.

Another MD530F operated by Las Vegas Metro Police Department on patrol over the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Photo Credit LVMPD

The damaged helicopter was eventually loaded on the back of a flatbed truck and taken to an undisclosed location for further examination by investigators. By 6pm 23rd street was reopened and the neighborhood began to return to normal.

Press Release Issued by LVMPD on 1-2-15

Pilots Involved in December 31, 2014
Emergency Helicopter Landing Identified


"The officers involved in the emergency landing of a LVMPD helicopter on a residential street December 31, 2014 have been identified as Officer David Callen and Officer Paul Lourenco. Officer Callen has been employed with the LVMPD since March, 2000 and Officer Lourenco has been employed with the LVMPD since July, 1997. Both officers are pilots assigned to the
Emergency Operations Bureau, Search and Rescue/Air Support Detail.

Both officers were treated for their injuries at the UMC Trauma Center and were released the same evening. The officers are both experienced pilots, each having over 2,200 flight hours, and both are certified flight instructors. An audio clip of the radio traffic of the incident accompanies this release.

An extensive review of each of the aircraft in the LVMPD fleet is currently underway. Initially, no LVMPD helicopters will be flying in regular service. Each of the aircraft will go through a detailed inspection and maintenance record check. At the conclusion of each inspection, the respective aircraft will be released back into service.

The six helicopters in Metro’s fleet include one Bell 407, three McDonnell Douglas 530-FF’s, and two Bell HH-1H’s. The aircraft involved in this incident was a McDonnell Douglas 530-FF. The department now has five operational helicopters in the fleet. The investigation into this incident remains ongoing. As the primary responsibility for the investigation lies with the Federal Aviation Administration, we will not be releasing further
information or giving interviews at this time
."

Following is the NTSB preliminary report on this incident.

NTSB Identification: WPR15TA071

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation

Accident occurred Wednesday, December 31, 2014 in Las Vegas, NV

Aircraft: MD HELICOPTER INC 369FF, registration: N530KK

Injuries: 2 Minor.

"This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

On December 31, 2014, about 1330 Pacific standard time, an MD Helicopter Inc. 369FF, N530KK, was substantially damaged during an emergency autorotation following a sudden loss of engine power in Las Vegas, Nevada. The two commercial pilots on board sustained minor injuries. The helicopter was registered to, and operated by, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department as a public-use flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from North Las Vegas Airport, Las Vegas, at 1322.

The pilot reported that he was orbiting when he noticed a drop in engine and rotor revolutions per minute (rpm). The pilot then rolled the helicopter out of the orbit, and the engine and rotor rpm stabilized momentarily at 97%. The pilot attempted to increase the engine and rotor rpm while turning west towards the North Las Vegas Airport. During the maneuver, the engine and rotor rpm rapidly degraded. The pilot entered an autorotation, and executed an emergency landing. The helicopter touched down hard, the tail impacted the ground, and separated from the airframe."  

Tragedy Strikes Pima County (AZ) Sheriff's Aviation Unit

Pima County Sheriff's MD530F & Helio Courier aircraft. This appears to be the same helicopter involved in the fatal crash on Monday.A Pima County Arizona Sheriff's Department helicopter with four souls on board crashed Monday morning around 1130 am while scouting an area for new communication towers.  The pilot, Loren Leonberger 60, was fatally injured in the crash.  Of the three other occupants on board the helicopter two were reported to be in serious condition and on was reported to be in critical condition. 

The civilian pilot, Leonberger, first flew helicopters with the U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1970.  Prior to coming to work for the Pima County Sheriff's Department he worked as a helicopter pilot for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department.  The crash occurred approximately 40 miles northwest of Tucson International airport in a rugged area of Waterman Mountain, in the Ironwood Forest National Monument area.  The exact circumstances of the crash are uncertain at this time according to the FAA.

After the crash one passenger identified as Edwin Nettleton (58), a radio engineer, called 911 to report the crash and advise that he was afraid the helicopter wreckage would fall over a cliff if he attempted to climb out.  He also expressed his concern about fire.  Nettleton told dispatchers that he suffered a broken wrist in the crash.

According the rescuers on scene the helicopter did apparently tumble 100 to 150 yards down the side of the mountain before it came to rest against a tree. 

While the helicopter crash investigation is in the very early stages and it is unknown if weather played a factor, there were some reports of a hail storm approximately 3 miles from the crash site, around the time of the crash.  However, records at the Marana airport, closest to the crash site showed that winds there were calm.  

In the past the Pima County Sheriff's Department operated one MD 530F helicopter, which the same make and model helicopter reported to be involved in the crash. 

The MD 500 series helicopter is a reliable, and rugged 4 passenger helicopter well suited for off field and rescue work in- rugged terrain.  The MD 530F is the preferred patrol helicopter for many agencies including the San Diego Sheriff's Department.  One of the things that makes the MD530F popular among pilots is it's reputation for survivability in crashes. 

The Pima County Sheriff's Department Aviation Unit was featured in an article here at Police Helicopter Pilot.com back in January of 2010. 

Police Helicopter Pilot sends it's condolences to the family of the pilot, Loren Leonberger.  RIP

Helicopter Crash on Guejito Ranch Promts Multi-Agency Response

R44 4 seat helicopter, photo courtesy of Cal-Fire Valley Center.At around 1430 hours on Sunday September 20th, an emergency call went out that a helicopter had crashed on the Guejito Ranch in northern San Diego County.  The two occupants of the R44 piston powered 4 seat helicopter, survived the crash and used a cell phone to call for help.  Initial reports were that both occupants sustained injuries and needed assistance.

A San Diego Sheriff's patrol helicopter crewed by Pilot S. Rea and TFO G. Kneeshaw arrived on scene and began a search for the downed aircraft.  The helicopter was subsequently located in an remote area inaccessible to vehicles. 

Deputy Kneeshaw embarked on foot to contact and assist the injured occupants while Deputy Rea got back into the air to direct in the responding Cal-Fire and Sheriff's patrol units. 

Due to the remote location it was quickly determined that both victims would need to be evacuated by way of a hoist rescue ship.  A San Diego Sheriff's Fire/Rescue helicopter piloted by Deputy T. Weber, with an all Cal-Fire hoist crew, responded along with two Mercy Air medical helicopters.  Basket lifts were conducted on both patients by the crew of Copter 10, before they were handed off to Mercy Air for the medical transport.  Both patients are expected to fully recover from their injuries.

Initial information at the scene indicated that the helicopter may have been in a low orbit when the engine lost power and the helicopter suffered a hard landing.  The helicopter did suffer significant damage to include the tail boom becoming separated from the aircraft.  Unconfirmed reports are that the helicotper was new, with only 130 hours of total flying time.  According to the Robinson Helicopter website a new R44 Raven II helicopter retails for $404,000.

PHP staff spoke to the manager of Guejito Ranch, a working cattle ranch and the largest of the original Spanish Land Grants still in existence in California today.  The ranch manager confirmed that this is approximately the 6th air crash on the ranch in the past 2 years.  He further confirmed that his level of frustration with air crashes and low flying helicopters buzzing cattle is at an all time high.  

Low flying helicopter pilots would be smart to avoid the Guejito Ranch as a training area.  

Police Helicopter Pilot.com wishes a speedy recovery to the injured flyers. 

NTSB Releases Preliminary Report on August 4th CBP Helicopter Crash

File photo of Miami Dade Police EC AS350B3, (not the one involved in the crash).On Tuesday August 4th at 1630 hours a Department of Homeland Security, Customs & Border Protection helicopter (similar to the one pictured above) crash landed at Herlong Airport in Jacksonville Florida causing substantial damage to the aircraft but only minor injuries to one of the occupants.

The helicopter, a Eurocopter AS350B3, and crew were on a training flight and were practicing hydraulics off approaches to a hover- when the helicopter contacted the ground, spun and rolled over onto it's side according to the NTSB's preliminary report.  The Certified Flight Instructor suffered minor injuries while the commercial pilot was not injured. 

The helicopter suffered substantial damage to the fuselage, tail rotor and main rotor system. 

Helicopter Featured in PHP Photo Gallery Involved in Fatal Crash

N61735 MD500 (Hughes 369D) helicopter involved in fatal crash in Pa.

In April of this year I posted this photo taken by Deputy Rocky Laws, in the policehelicopterpilot.com photo gallery.  It was a beautiful MD500 often seen flying in and out of Gillespie Field (our home base) in El Cajon Ca.  I was sure that this photo captured by Rocky would be appreciated by any helicopter enthusiast, and since we fly MD's also, it was more than worthy of being included in the gallery.

I was sad to learn that this helicopter was involved in a fatal crash last week, (July 22nd) in Wharton Township Pa., while reportedly performing "long line" operations in support of natural gas survey work. 

Early reports by the news media indicated that the line and basket underneath the helicopter may have become entangled in trees, and the pilot attempted to make an emergency or crash landing.  However, a quick look at the crash photos tells a different story.

First, a line becoming entangled in the trees is not necessarily an emergency for an experienced and properly trained long line pilot, which I have no doubt this pilot was.  A helicopter pilot performing long line operations in and around trees or other obstacles will be leaning out the door far enough to keep an constant eye on the line and load.  That is why it is also referred to as "vertical reference flying" because the pilot is often looking straight down at the ground and his load, and flying the helicopter by visual reference to the ground below him instead of out in front of him or her.  

This type of flying is generally slow, with an emphasis on precision.  If a line becomes entangled the pilot simply works to get the line untangled, or "pickles" (releases) the load.  These hooks on the belly of the helicopter generally have an electronic release button, with a back up manual release handle both mounted right on the cyclic.  Pilots are also trained to test both release methods prior to any long line work. 

The greater danger in performing long line work is that you are often working outside of the height velocity curve that is publised in the operating manual for every helicopter.  This is also sometimes called "dead mans curve." 

In the event of an engine out the helicopter absolutely must have an acceptable combination of  altitude and airspeed in order to enter autorotation.  The right combination of altitude and airspeed will keep the  air rushing up through those rotor blades (collective must be immediately lowered) and keep them turning at a sufficient rpm and with enough energy to cushion the landing.  This technique works every time when performed properly and when operating inside the published height velocity diagram, (500' and 60 knots is an example of a good altitude and airspeed combination for most helicopters, while 200' and 20 knots or a hover at 200' is an example of a height and velocity where most helicopters would be incapable of performing a successful autorotation.)

However, long line operations by their nature require pilots to operate outside of the height velocity diagram.  If you are using a 100' line and you are in a precision hover picking up or placing a load then you are operating outside of the height velocity diagram.  This is perfectly legal, and helicopter pilots accept this risk when performing long line operations as well as certain other helicopter maneuvers. 

While I am not a trained helicopter accident investigator certain logical conclusions can be drawn simply by examining the photos published in the news stories of this crash.  All 5 blades on this helicopter are completely intact and do not appear to have any damage normally associated with blades which are spinning at flight rpm, and involved in a crash.  One would expect to see splintered blades, deeply gouged dirt and much more significant damage to the cabin fuselage if the crash occurred with the engine and rotorblades spinning at the proper rpm.  Instead you see blades that are intact but drooped and touching the ground on all sides of the aircraft, much more indicative of a very hard impact with low rotor rpm. 

Rather than getting his line caught in the trees as reported by a number of news outlets, this helicopter more likely experienced engine problems or an engine out while flying outside of the height velocity curve.  Even the best helicopter pilots in the world may not have been able to recover and survive such an occurance. 

This is tragic and sad event for helicopter aviation and PHP.com sends it's condolences to the pilot's family and friends. 

According to the FAA the helicopter was a Hughes 369D manufactured in 2002 and owned by Utility Helicopters Inc at 1948 Joe Crosson Dr in El Cajon Ca., (Gillespie Field). 

The helicopter was likely leased or contracted out to Geokinetics of Oregon for the survey work being conducted.   

Fatal AH-1W Cobra Crash Promts Sheriff's Fire Helicoper Response

File photo of a U.S. Marine Cobra Helicopter, Wikimedia.orgTragically, a Marine Corps Cobra Helicopter with two souls on board crashed and burned in an area of eastern San Diego County known as Kitchen Creek (north of Interstate 8) on Tuesday night, just before midnight.  The helicopter was returning from a training mission in Yuma Arizona with live ordinance on board at the time of the crash.  Both Marine Corps pilots on the helicopter, one male and one female, were fatally injured.

The helicopter was assigned to the 3rd Marine Aviation Wing at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station and had been training with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit just prior to the crash.  The crash sparked a brush fire which continued to flare up off and on throughout Wednesday.

The location of the crash is within the boundaries of the Cleveland National Forest prompting a response from U.S. Forest Service fire crews as well as the San Diego County Sheriff's Fire Helicopter.  Firefighters and military personnel were concerned with un-exploded ordinance scattered in the area.  

The Sheriff's fire helicopter "Copter 12" remained on scene until late Wednesday evening dropping water on hot spots and flare ups. 

At the time of the crash there were no unusual weather patterns and there was high moon light level.  The high moon light levels provide excellent visibility for flying at night on night vision goggles.  While it is not known for certain at this time whether the crew was flying on NVG's it is quite probable. 

According to unnamed sources at the scene of the crash the crew may have been experiencing engine and/or avionics problems and may have been trying to return the helicopter to their base at Miramar.  That information is preliminary and unconfirmed.  The helicopter was accompanied by a second Marine helicopter when it went down. 

Even though this is a military helicopter crash it still garners much interest and concern from other helicopter pilots, including law enforcement, fire, and EMS pilots.  As law enforcement pilots we often share the same airspace and fly over the same terrain as or military counterparts (while they are here in the U.S.) as well as sharing the same safety of flight issues.  While we don't know the cause of this crash, an engine out at night time, in the back country (even if the pilot is flying on NVG's) is a scenario all helicopter pilots must think about and plan for.

The staff at police helicopter pilot.com extends it's condolences to the families of the two pilots, and thanks them for their service and ultimate sacrifice for our country.  We will follow the crash investigation and provide updates as information becomes available.