Passenger recounts moments as helicopter crashes in downtown

Karl Hedberg
Karl Hedberg

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It was business as usual on Thursday for Mauna Loa Helicopters, just one day after one of its choppers made a crash landing in downtown Honolulu.

Initial reports say the helicopter had an engine failure.

The Federal Aviation Administration increases surveillance on any operator that has had multiple accidents.

Meanwhile, the passenger on board the helicopter that came down spoke with KHON2 and says he’s grateful to be alive.

Karl Hedberg has a huge smile on his face and a story he never expected to live to tell about.

“I can let it roll off my shoulders but it’s hanging with me, it will for a while. A real blessing to be here now,” Hedberg said.

Pilots and first responders are calling the hard landing a miracle.

Before the chaotic scene, Hedberg and his 30-year-old, pilot Julia Link, were up taking aerial photographs of a medical supply building on Keeaumoku Street.

As they circled back towards the airport… it happened.

“At that point, everything went silent. You are used to a lot of noise and then when all of a sudden it goes silent and you’re waiting for the engine to kick back up again and nothing happened,” Hedberg said.

Link immediately took the controls and tilted the helicopter forward to maintain airspeed and keep the bird from spinning. She then radioed the tower that they were without power and being forced to land.

The best option was Fort Street.

“Set the skids down like on a ski slope front blades, and then the car, bam! About that quick,” Hedberg said.

The car and chopper got smashed up in the collision… But Hedberg barely had a scratch on him, only a minor cut on his head. Link also walked away without any serious injuries.

Hedberg calls it was a ride he’ll never forget and is eager for another go.

“Eager to fly again. Let’s go again, babe,” Hedberg said.

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board on the hard landing will be released be in about week.

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