Helicopter pulled from water
A sore jaw is a small price to pay to walk away from a chopper crash.
As Rick Lucas watched his helicopter being winched out of Pauatahanui Inlet, he said he was stunned at the damage to the machine.
‘‘It’s so much worse than I thought. I can’t believe I survived.’’
After two days in the water, the helicopter that smashed into shallow sea in Porirua was pulled out on Thursday afternoon.
Lucas couldn’t believe it hadn’t become his coffin. ‘‘If you told me someone could walk away from that, I wouldn’t believe you.’’
He climbed out of the aircraft just minutes after the crash, with a tender jaw and a cut mouth his only injuries.
‘‘Yes, I did buy a Lotto ticket, but I haven’t checked it yet.’’
He had been flying on Tuesday for Heliforce, carrying power poles, when he felt an intense vibration before the helicopter began to rotate.
‘‘I just carried out what I considered to be the normal emergency procedures – and got away with it.’’
On Thursday, the salvage operation began with the machine, still on its side, being inched towards shore on airbags, towed by a boat.
A crowd of about 200 watched as salvage crews then used a crane and digger to drag the machine across the car park by Paremata bridge.
It would then be taken away for further investigations.
Lucas said watching it come floating into shore was almost worse than the crash that took it into the water.
‘‘People who don’t fly don’t get it, but we get close to our machines.
‘‘I’ve left a bit of my soul in there.’’
The accident had been hard on his family, particularly 13-yearold son Bryn who accompanied him to watch the salvage, he said.
Bryn said his Dad was a good pilot and although he was ‘‘ pretty upset to hear he had crashed, I wasn’t too scared.
‘‘I always knew Dad would make it out OK.’’
Lucas said he had been medically cleared to fly again, and would be back in the air soon.
Putting his arm around his visibly upset son, he pulled him in close and gave him a squeeze.
‘‘I know this one wants to become a pilot, but I’d prefer he became a brain surgeon or something like that.’’
Pilot Rick Lucas’ helicopter has been recovered after crashing into the Pauatahanui Inlet.