A 34-year-old flight instructor was killed and his 25-year-old male student went to the hospital with serious injuries after a helicopter crash just outside the airport property.
At approximately 10:25AM, witnesses heard a sputtering engine on one of three helicopters flying near the Palm Beach County Park Airport [KLNA]. The helicopter, operated by Palm Beach Helicopters, then crashed on John Prince Park property, just north of the airport. The actual crash location was in the grassy area, north of the creek and west of the long, white-roofed shed building (part of the park’s maintenance facilities).
Helicopter engines can fail. When they do, pilots are trained to respond by doing an autorotation landing. With sufficient altitude and forward speed, the helicopter can be brought to a relatively normal landing. If the engine failure occurs at lower altitudes, however, the result will be a hard landing or even a destructive crash.
An online search for helicopter flight instruction at the Lantana airport lists numerous operators, including PalmBeachHelicopters.com and LantanaHelicopters.com. KLNA sits on more than 300-acres and is a busy uncontrolled (no tower) airport. A full 75% of the 347 average daily takeoffs and landings per day are local flights that remain within the airport pattern.
Many Florida airports offer intensive flight training programs, drawing students from across the nation and even from others parts of the world. Those programs focused on helicopter training create especially substantial noise and air pollution for airport neighbors. Typically, the flight instructors are minimally paid but building hours of experience required for future aviation jobs. Many of the students receive government subsidies, some related to past military service.