No Injuries In Willard Helicopter Crash During Training Exercise

January 18, 2017
University of Illinois Willard Airport Executive Director Gene Cossey talks with reporters on Wednesday's helicopter crash.

University of Illinois Willard Airport Executive Director Gene Cossey talks with reporters on Wednesday's helicopter crash.

Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

The two occupants of a small training helicopter walked away without injury after it crashed at the University of Illinois’ Willard Airport around 1:30 Wednesday afternoon. Willard Executive Director Gene Cossey says during a landing procedure, they lost control of the aircraft, which skidded down the runway and flipped over. 

Cossey says this model copter, the Robinson R22, has been used in training exercises for decades.

“They’re extremely safe, (we have) very few problems or incidents with them," he said. "But again in training, you’re teaching somebody to do things are sometimes a little out of the ordinary, you do a lot of emergency landing type of training, and sometimes the aircraft can get away from the student.”

Cossey says the aircraft was seriously damaged, but there was no threat of it catching on fire.  He says it’s operated by a private company that does training, and is not connected to the U of I, or Parkland College’s Institute of Aviation. Cossey did not identify the company.

He says Willard has seen a few minor accidents like this in the past few years, and staff is trained to deal with it.

"Hard landings, bouncing, going off the side of the runways, those things tend to happen a lot," Cossey said. "Serious accidents are very rare."

Cossey says Willard was closed for a few minutes to respond to the accident, but said all other air traffic at got off the ground as scheduled.

Story source: WILL