Miracles And Midair Tragedy

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You know you're having a bad day when the tail of your helicopter flies past the cockpit. The day gets considerably better when you get to tell the tale to friends and family. An instructor and student walked away without a scratch after they apparently severed the tail of the MD-500 with the chopper's own rotor during a training flight from the Greenville, S.C., airport. Instructor Jordan Gipe told The Greenville News he believes one of the rotors "flopped down" and hit the tail while he and the student were practicing autorotation. "It's not a good feeling," said Gipe. He managed to keep the spinning chopper level as it settled into some trees. Not so lucky were two Rhode Island men killed in a midair collision last week. Peter Coleman and Hardy Lebel, both of Westerly, were killed when the Cessna 180 they were flying took off and collided with a PA-28 that was landing on the same runway. The Piper pilot, Brooks Kay, and his grandparents Creighton and Gwendolun Kay walked away after a hard landing. The Cessna crashed nose-first from about 100 feet. Kay told investigators he radioed his intentions but didn't hear anything from the Cessna, which he had seen taxiing toward the runway. NTSB spokesman Steve Demko said it's possible the two pilots were monitoring different frequencies. Demko suggested to the Westerly Sun that such incidents are common in GA operations. "Accidents like this do occur and happen all the time," he said. "Hopefully we'll be able to develop recommendations out of this accident."