Bushfire hero pulled from wreckage after fiery Kosciuszko helicopter crash

Bushfire hero pulled from wreckage after fiery Kosciuszko helicopter crash

17 April 2018

Published by https://www.sbs.com.au/

AUSTRALIA – A hero helicopter pilot who helped save countless homes during Sydney’s wild weekend bushfire has crashed in a remote area of Kosciuszko National Park.

Phil O’Driscoll’s water-bombing helicopter crashed near Cabramurra on Tuesday afternoon, initially catching fire before the flames were extinguished.

A spokesperson for NSW Ambulance told SBS News “the patient has been transported to Canberra Hospital where he is in a stable condition and being treated for head and spinal injuries”.

Another fiery smash in Canada in 2005 left Mr O’Driscoll with severe burn scars on his face.

The UH-1H helicopter that came down on Tuesday is operated by O’Driscoll Aviation, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority database confirms.

It’s used for water-bombing operations and fought the Holsworthy blaze that started on Saturday afternoon and has now burnt through almost 3300 hectares of Sydney bushland.

The helicopter – built in 1965 – was returning from the city when it crashed on Tuesday, a CASA spokesman told AAP.

A Rural Fire Service spokesman confirmed the helicopter had been involved in fighting the Holsworthy blaze but said Mr O’Driscoll was working on a private job on Tuesday.

Mr O’Driscoll was the sole occupant of the helicopter.

He recently shared a video on Facebook of his firefighting runs for the RFS in the Riverina region on April 12.

AAP understands the helicopter also tackled the massive bushfire at Tathra in mid-March which destroyed 100 properties.

Mr O’Driscoll narrowly escaped death in 2005 after his helicopter smashed into a cliff in the Canadian wilderness as he tried to avoid hitting people, News Corp Australia reported in 2010.

The UH-1H helicopter was donated to the pilot by a Northern Territory family in 2010 to help him get back on his feet.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will send a team from Canberra to investigate Tuesday’s crash.

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