She Heard About Midair Crash on the News. Then 'the Cops Came'

2 are dead after collision between plane, helicopter over Chandler, Ariz.
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2021 9:15 AM CDT
2 Dead After Midair Crash of Plane, Helicopter
Chandler Municipal Airport in Chandler, Ariz., is seen here on Friday.   (Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic via AP)

Authorities are asking for witnesses in Chandler, Ariz., after a midair crash between a plane and a helicopter Friday morning that killed two. Local police and the Federal Aviation Administration say the collision at Chandler Airpark took place between a single-engine Piper PA-28 and a Robinson R22 helicopter, both operated by flight schools, reports NBC News. Sgt. Jason McClimans of the Chandler Police Department says the two people killed were on the helicopter.

According to the Chandler Fire Department, the helicopter crashed to the ground and burst into flames, while the plane landed safely, with damage to its landing gear, per the FAA. The AP reports that the flight instructor and student in the plane weren't hurt. KPNX identifies one of the helicopter's fatalities as Michael Papendick, a Navy veteran who'd just moved to Arizona with his wife and young daughter and was training to be a pilot.

"I had a hunch that ... was him," his wife, Rebecca, says of when she heard about the accident on the news, aware that her husband had been scheduled to fly that morning. Then "the cops came and I was screaming. I fell to my knees." The FAA will have help from the National Transportation Safety Board in investigating the crash, a Chandler city spokesperson tells NBC. Police are asking anyone who witnessed the accident to call 480-782-4130. (More helicopter crash stories.)

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