Two experienced helicopter pilots had to make a “hard landing” at Fullerton Airport Wednesday in the midst of a training exercise, but both walked away unscathed.

The two had flown from the Long Beach Airport to Fullerton to complete an annual training exercise for one of the pilots to achieve a certification, said Fullerton-Brea Division Chief Kathy Schaefer.

As the helicopter was hovering about three feet above the runway, it started to spin, Schaefer said. The pilot leading the training exercise took over for the other man and steadied the chopper enough to make a hard landing, Schaefer said.

“It was a pretty hard landing, but it wasn’t a crash,” she said.

The helicopter’s blades clipped the runway and the tail was nearly shorn off, she said.

“The pilot that took over did an excellent job in saving both their lives,” Schaefer said. “They did an excellent job of recovering what could have been a disaster.”

The two each have about 30 years of flying experience, she said.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the crash, which was expected to keep the Commonwealth Avenue airport shut down through early afternoon, Schaefer said.

–City News Service

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