News 9 Pilot Discusses Seattle News Chopper Crash - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

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News 9 Pilot Discusses Seattle News Chopper Crash

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Bob Mills SkyNews 9 HD pilot Jim Gardner has a couple thousand hours of flight experience with the type of helicopter involved in the crash. Bob Mills SkyNews 9 HD pilot Jim Gardner has a couple thousand hours of flight experience with the type of helicopter involved in the crash.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Two people were killed and one person was seriously injured during a news helicopter crash in downtown Seattle Tuesday. Bob Mills SkyNews 9 HD pilot Jim Gardner has a couple thousand hours of flight experience with the type of helicopter involved in the crash.

The helicopter slammed into cars and exploded on impact -- sending fire and smoke into the air, according to witnesses.

"That was just a catastrophic explosion when it hit the ground because of that fuel," Gardner said.

The crash occurred outside the helicopter's own TV station, ABC affiliate KOMO-4. Longtime photographer Bill Strothman and pilot Gary Pfitzner were found dead at the scene, according to KOMO-4's web site. Gardner knows his Seattle colleagues were on an Airbus A-star helicopter. He said that type of helicopter is a good machine, but Gardner also said, "I think there's some flaws with them, and one of them being the fuel cell that's in them." The fuel cell is a 140-gallon plastic tank that sits at the center of the helicopter.

3/18/2014 Related Story: News Helicopter Crashes Near Seattle Space Needle; 2 Dead

"[When] that helicopter hits the ground, the transmission is driven through the top of the roof on the top of that plastic fuel tank, and it just cracks open like an egg," said Gardner. "You take 140 gallons of [jet fuel] that burns very hot...it just ignites and there's nothing you can do."

SkyNews 9's fuel cell is made of a rubber material. No matter the safety features, Gardner said there is always risk. However, news helicopter crashes are extremely rare, with only a handful occurring over the past five decades.

A driver injured on the ground was still being treated at a hospital, as of late Tuesday, with burns covering roughly 20 percent of his body, according to Seattle news reports.

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