Virginia helicopter crash: 6 tourists dead as 'Die Hard' chopper crashes onto road

The Vietnam-era Bell UH-1B helicopter, also known as Huey, crashed into the highway at around 5 pm, had 6 passengers and none of them survived


                            Virginia helicopter crash: 6 tourists dead as 'Die Hard' chopper crashes onto road
Bell UH-1B crashed into a highway in Logan County, West Virginia, killing all 6 passengers (Photo: Heritage Flight Museum/heritageflight.org)
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A helicopter crashed onto a highway in West Virginia killing 6 people on Wednesday, June 22. According to a statement made by Federal Aviation Administration, the crash occurred on State Route 17 in southwest West Virginia. The FAA said in a statement, "A Bell UH-1B helicopter crashed near Rt 17 in Logan County, West Virginia, around 5 p.m. local time Wednesday. Six people were on board. FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide additional updates." The incident took place in a rural area and the helicopter was on fire when the rescue crew arrived on spot.

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There were no survivors in this accident as confirmed by Ray Bryant, the Chief of Operations for the Logan Emergency Management Authority. Bryant further described the helicopter as a Huey, a military utility Vietnam War-era Bell UH-1B, powered by a single turboshaft engine, two-bladed main, and tail rotors, and was manufactured in 1962. It was owned by Marpat Aviation and was being used for an annual reunion for a charity event this week. According to the aviation company, the event, billed as The 7th Annual Huey Reunion, run by Marpat Aviation stated that for the price of $250 per seat, people with no flying experience could pilot a helicopter with the tail number N98F. 'Take the right seat and YOU can fly N98F!' it read, 'You DO NOT need to be a pilot to make a reservation to fly!' Bryant confirmed that the helicopter that crashed had the tail number N98F. 
The aviation company's website read that helicopter N98F was 'quite probably the oldest Huey in the world.' Authorities have not yet confirmed the identities of the victims, but Bryant said they were not local residents. The helicopter was a Hollywood darling as it had featured in movies like 'Die Hard', 'The Rock', and 'Baywatch.' 

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According to the Heritage Flight Museum, the Bell UH-1 was first manufactured in 1950 and was extensively used during the Vietnam war. The National Transportation Safety Board and the FFA have sent investigators to the scene and State Route 17 is expected to stay closed for the next 24 hours. While the actual reason for the crash is still unclear, according to Logan County’s office of emergency management, there was a severe thunderstorm watch in the area. Following the incident, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice tweeted, "Cathy and I are praying for the families of those killed in this tragic helicopter crash."

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Only a mile away from the crash site, a witness, Bobbi Childs, called 911 the moment she saw the helicopter spiraling out of control. By the time she reached the spot, the helicopter had crashed and burst into flames. She saw at least one person trapped in it. She told WSAZ, "I ran as fast as I could go and I went under the guardrail and I went up to the helicopter. But the fire was just so hot, so intense, and that guy didn't make it out of there." 

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This is a developing story and MEAWW will keep you updated.

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