CLEVELAND – A helicopter crashed on an airport runway only a few hundred yards from thousands of fans attending a car race Saturday, but the pilot walked away uninjured.
The helicopter went down at almost the same time that several cars were involved in a first lap accident in the Grand Prix of Cleveland at the Burke Lakefront Airport.
The helicopter’s back rotator blade was broken off and part of its body was sheared away. No one else was in the helicopter, and there were no injuries on the ground.
Moments before it went down, the helicopter had flown over crowded grandstands. Airport officials said the pilot of the privately chartered helicopter reported an equipment malfunction while in the air, but it was too early to pinpoint the cause of the crash.
Dave Geall, a photographer from Toronto, was eating lunch when he noticed the helicopter.
“I saw him come in, and I wasn’t sure if he was showing off or what,” Geall said. “Then he swung around twice and it came down on its back, rotator first, before it bounced back up onto its landing gear.”
The race has been held on the airport’s runways and taxiways since 1982. Burke Airport is used primarily by smaller planes and news helicopters.