SAN DIEGO -- There is new information about what may have caused Wednesday's deadly chopper crash -- just moments before the helicopter spun out of control the pilot complained that something was wrong on the ground.
The pilot who was killed in a bizarre helicopter accident at Palomar Airport Wednesday complained to air traffic controllers that the cart he was trying to land on wasn’t secured.
"They didn’t chock my cart. It was like a skateboard out here,” said Bruce Erickson to air traffic controllers moments before his helicopter began spinning out of control.
Chocking involves jamming a wedge of wood or a metal angle-iron near the tires so the cart, which is used to roll helicopters into the hangar, doesn’t move during landings.
Erickson was trying to land his chopper on a cart outside Premier Jet. Doing so is difficult, pilots say, because it’s a very small landing target. And if you don’t put the aircraft down on it just right the landing could end in disaster.
"It’s gonna come out from under you and slide around. You don’t want to land on it unless it is chocked,” said lifelong pilot Tom Ricotta.
Ricotta didn’t want to speculate on Wednesday’s crash, but he agreed with Team 10 sources who say a moving cart could trigger much bigger problems for the pilot. If the skid misses the cart the chopper’s rotors or tail could hit the ground.