Canadian Man Dies in 'Amateur-Built' Helicopter Crash

The DIY aircraft crashed in Alberta, killing the pilot.

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Jul 16 2018, 6:00pm

Image: Shutterstock

An “amateur-built helicopter” crashed in the western Canadian province of Alberta on Sunday, killing the pilot, who was the only person on board.

The DIY helicopter crashed into the east shoreline of Sheep River near the town of Okotoks, about a 45-minute drive southwest of Calgary, the High River detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) told Motherboard over the phone. Fishermen called in the accident, according to local media.

The RCMP has released the scene to investigators from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), the spokesperson said. The TSB sent two investigators to assess the crash site, according to a notice posted on Monday, and TSB spokespeople said over the phone that they have yet to report back with their findings.

Amateur-built aircraft are legal in Canada as long as they are approved by Transport Canada. According to a TSB spokesperson, “the aircraft was registered, so you can presume [if] it was registered with [Transport Canada] it was legal,” but deferred to Transport Canada. Spokespeople for Transport Canada were not immediately available for comment.

Building your own aircraft takes a great deal of care and dedication—creating a safe one requires precise welds and an eye for mechanical perfection.

Amateur-built helicopters are a subset of the already-niche hobby of DIY aircraft building. Normally, such aircraft are built from kits sold by a handful of companies. A Canadian dealer for one of the oldest players in the space, RotorWay—which released its first DIY helicopter kit in 1967has an office roughly two hours from the crash site in Red Deer, Alberta. A RotorWay spokesperson told Motherboard over the phone that the company is trying to find information regarding the incident but has no comment presently.

Authorities have not released the identity of the pilot killed in the crash.

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