A firefighting helicopter crashed on takeoff today from the Bishop Airport in the eastern Sierra Nevada, but all four people aboard escaped unharmed. U.S. Forest Service officials say the helicopter was beginning a flight back to its base in Bridgeport when the 8:50 am accident occurred. It had been used to fight a forest fire in the nearby White Mountains that was fully contained last night. Officials say the helicopter was destroyed, but the pilot and three crewmembers were able to walk away.
The AS-350-B-3 Eurocopter operated on an exclusive-use contract to the Forest Service. A Forest Service team has been called in to conduct an investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board has been notified. Bishop is on US 395 in the northern Owens Valley on the eastern flank of the Sierra. In June, an air tanker crashed while fighting a forest fire in nearby Walker, killing all three aboard.