Pilot flying beside ill-fated helicopter describes what happened

WCPOPublished: August 8, 2017
Published: August 8, 2017

One of six National Guard Sikorski Skycranes headed from Lunken Airport to an Army base in Pennsylvania fell out of the sky and crashed into a home in an exclusive neighborhood in Miamiville, Ohio, on Sept. 29, 1979. The pilot flying next to the ill-fated helicopter, Chief Warrant Officer Ed Metcalfe, said he saw the six-bladed main rotor fall off as they flew 100 mph at 2,000 feet about 12:30 p.m. that sunny Saturday afternoon. The four crewmembers were killed. The house, in a secluded, wooded area, burst into flames, but three people inside ran to safety. Wreckage filled the yard and the adjoining lake. Crews pulled the cockpit out of the lake while firefighters hosed down the burning house and wreckage. Neighbors said they saw or heard the helicopter crash. Some said debris fell into their yards. Oak Surber, whose house was hit, hurried home from a Canadian hunting trip to find it completely charred and in ruin. His wife, daughter and housekeeper escaped uninjured. Surber, a builder, said he built his own home and many in the Indian Oaks subdivision. The Surbers said they lost a lifetime of priceless collectibles including paintings, sculptures and Oriental antiques. Damage was estimated at $600,000. The helicopter crews were from units of the Alabama and Pennsylvania Army National Guards. The helicopters were being transferred from the Alabama unit in Birmingham to the Pennsylvania unit at Ft. Indiantown Gap because the Alabama unit was receiving newer models. They had stopped at Lunken overnight for rest and refueling. The other five helicopters were immediately grounded after the crash.

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