6 killed after Vietnam War-era helicopter giving a tour crashes onto road in Logan County, West Virginia
By Amy Simonson and Elizabeth Wolfe, CNN
A Vietnam War-era helicopter that crashed Wednesday killing 6 was being used for reunion festivities, according to an emergency management official.
“The Huey that crashed was the one that was being used at the reunion,” Logan County Emergency Ambulance Authority Chief of Operations Ray Bryant Bryant said.
An accident and incident notification posted online by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says: “Helicopter crashed under (unknown) circumstances on Blair Mt hwy while reportedly giving air tours, a/c consumed by fire.”
The sole flight crew member and five passengers were killed, the report says. The names of the victims have not been released, Bryant said.
The FAA report lists the helicopter’s tail number as N98F. It is owned by MARPAT Aviation, which lists an address at the Logan County Airport, according to the company’s website.
Company officials said they had no comment when contacted by CNN.
The UH-1B Huey was nicknamed “Miss Fit” and was first flown in Vietnam in the 1962, according to MARPAT. It returned to the United States in 1971. The FAA’s registry site lists its certificate as being issued in April 2017.
MARPAT’s website advertises a Huey reunion being held June 21-26 at the airport.
“We want all helicopter (especially Huey) enthusiasts to have an opportunity to fly/ride in this historical helicopter,” the website says. Flying the Huey requires a donation of $250 for 30 minutes to pay for fuel, according to the website.
The website states the helicopter is “quite probably the oldest flying Huey in the world, as she was #488 out of 10,005 produced.” The chopper appeared in the films “Die Hard,” “The Rock,” “Outbreak” and “Baywatch,” according to the website.
The helicopter crashed around 5 p.m., according to a Wednesday statement from the FAA.
The aircraft went down on a rural roadway, Logan County Office of Emergency Management Deputy Director Sonya Porter said Wednesday.
When fire crews arrived on the scene, they found the helicopter had erupted in flames and put the fire out, Bryant told CNN affiliate WSAZ on Wednesday.
Bobbi Childs, who lives about a mile from the site of the crash, called 911 and rushed to the scene when she saw the helicopter begin to careen out of control, she told WSAZ. When she got there, she saw at least one person was trapped in the helicopter, which had erupted in flames, she said.
“I ran as fast as I could go and I went under the guardrail and I went up to the helicopter,” she told WSAZ. “But the fire was just so hot, so intense, and that guy didn’t make it out of there.”
After the crash, one of the owners showed up to the scene, Bryant told WSAZ, though he did not name the owner.
In a tweet Wednesday night, Gov. Jim Justice said: “Cathy and I are praying for the families of those killed in this tragic helicopter crash.”
Logan County is located near the border with Kentucky.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, the agencies said.
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CNN’s Steve Almasy contributed to this report.