Men killed in Palomar chopper crash ID'd

CARLSBAD – Two men killed in a helicopter crash at McLellan-Palomar Airport Wednesday afternoon have been identified. 
 
The San Diego County Medical Examiner reported Thursday that 65-year-old pilot Bruce Allen Erickson of Rancho Santa Fe and his 60-year-old passenger Wayne Frank Lewis of Cardiff-by-the-Sea died on the airport runway. 
 
According to the Medical Examiner, they were practicing landings at Palomar Airport when the tail of their helicopter hit the ground. The Eurocopter AS350 then “impacted” the ground and spun out of control on the runway and burst into flames.
 
Due to the fuel aboard, when Carlsbad police and fire crews arrived on scene, they first tried to put out the blaze before accessing the helicopter. Both Erickson and Lewis were pronounced dead at the scene. 
 
According to Bloomberg News, Erickson was the CEO of American Bank in Montana. Lewis was a realtor. According to a piece in the Robb Report, Erickson had been flying aircrafts since he was 12 years old. 
 
The FAA and NTSB will investigate the crash. The crash prompted a closure of the single-runway airport. McClellan-Palomar Airport has since reopened to helicopter operations, but the runway remained closed this morning, according to the county Department of Public Works.
 
A source told 10News the aircraft was a private helicopter. Since 1982, there have been 383 crashes involving the AS-350, 10News learned.
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