Two die as West Lothian helicopter crashes
The helicopter was on a flight from Dechmont, near Livingston, to Nottinghamshire when it came down near Selwick Bay in East Yorkshire at about 1:40pm yesterday.
Witnesses described how they heard a loud “crack” and then saw the helicopter disappear behind cliffs, where it crashed into the sea.
The JetRanger helicopter was due to refuel at nearby Humberside Airport before continuing to its final destination. Emergency services including the air ambulance, the coastguard and air sea rescue located the helicopter.
The two men’s bodies were recovered from the sunken aircraft shortly before 5pm, police said.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch has launched a probe to establish the cause of the crash.
Golfers at Flamborough Head Golf Club, near the site of the crash, said they thought the helicopter had been trying to land near the club’s 17th green when it ditched into the sea.
Chris Palmer, 33, a builder from East Yorkshire, said: “I was with my parents. We all saw the helicopter flying along the coastline, we heard a big crack and saw the helicopter start to descend like a plane and go behind the cliffs.
“By the time I got to the cliffs, there was no sign of it because it had gone under the water.”
Assistant greenkeeper Scott Cooper said when he first spotted the helicopter it did not seem to be in any trouble.
“Then it started to splutter and it started to sway and I thought the pilot was trying to make a landing, but it didn’t make it. We heard a bang and all ran across,” he said.
“We couldn’t see a great deal over the cliffs but a few bits of the helicopter and there was a very strong smell of fuel. It was awful.”
An Edinburgh Airport spokesman confirmed the helicopter had taken off from Dechmont yesterday.
Paul Litten, commercial director at Humberside Airport, said the helicopter had been due to land for refuelling yesterday afternoon.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “The Humber Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre received a call at 1:40pm that a small helicopter had gone into the water below the cliff, between the lighthouse and Flamborough Head golf course.
“A coastguard officer was winched down to assess the crash site by the search and rescue helicopter from Leconfield.”
Police said the men would not be identified until their families had been notified.
The incident is the latest in a string of helicopter crashes. Last November, a Eurocopter EC135 helicopter supporting police operations crashed into the roof of the packed Clutha Vaults pub in central Glasgow.
The pilot, two police officers on board and seven people in the pub were killed.
In August last year, four people died when a Super Puma helicopter carrying 16 passengers and two crew crashed into the North Sea close to Sumburgh Airport in the Shetland Islands.
Fourteen oil workers and two crew died when a Bond Super Puma plunged into the sea off the Aberdeenshire coast on 1 April, 2009.