A helicopter pilot is recovering at UVM Medical Center from what authorities describe as minor to moderate injuries after crashing on the Colchester Causeway.
The man, who has not been identified, was able to walk away from Friday afternoon’s crash, according to Colchester Fire Department Assistant Chief Seth Lasker, who said the pilot was the only person on board.
The aircraft went down about a mile and a half north of the nearest Colchester parking area. Crews were dismantling the helicopter’s charred chassis Friday evening so that it could be removed from the gravel bike path.
“The helicopter was actively burning when we arrived,” Lasker said. “The pilot actually was able to extricate himself from the wreckage and was walking towards us when we arrived.”
Burlington International Airport interim aviation director Nic Longo said the helicopter in question was a small, regular-fuel chopper that Burlington-based company Beta Technologies operates daily out of BTV. Longo said he didn’t know if it was taking off or landing from the airport at the time of the crash.
Lasker and Colchester Police Chief Doug Allen said mechanical problems were the likely cause. “I mean, obviously, it’s very early — but it’s looking like it was a mechanical issue, but again, it’s way, way too early to tell,” Lasker said.
Quite a few people were on the causeway at the time. None of them were hurt. “In fact, we had about 30 or so people waiting on the north side of the crash to exit the causeway,” Lasker said. “We didn’t get a chance to interview any of those folks.”
In a statement, Beta Technologies said the pilot, a certified flight instructor, “executed a precautionary emergency landing” on the causeway. Beta Technologies is investigating the cause.. Lasker said the National Transportation Safety Board has been consulted, as well.
“We’re waiting on word from them as to how we’re going to proceed,” he said.
The crash and fire damaged the helicopter so badly that its make and model are unknown.