The helicopter that abruptly crashed into an open field in Lino Lakes Thursday night likely came apart during its fall.
That's according to an update from the Anoka County Sheriff's Office released Friday morning, which offers a few more details about the mysterious wreck at County Road 14 and Sunset Avenue.
Some witnesses heard a pop or explosion of some kind, and the rotors on the aircraft stopped spinning, according to the release. The helicopter then fell from the sky, breaking into pieces as it went and leaving a trail of debris on the ground that stretched several hundred yards.
Two people were killed in the crash, Anoka County Sheriff's Office Cmdr. Paul Sommer said early Friday. One was a 48-year-old man from Minneapolis, the pilot; and the other a 47-year-old passenger, a woman from Blaine. Neither has been identified yet, as authorities work to notify family.
The impact area – which was "obvious" and in an open sod field – contained what was left of the fuselage, and there was a large fireball of impacted debris, the news release says, adding: "There was no possibility that any of the occupants could have survived the crash."
One person replying to Sommer on Twitter reported seeing the helicopter "flipping in air out of control low above our house" before it "crashed into ball of fire across the pond."
The sheriff’s office is asking residents of the area around the crash scene to keep an eye out for – but not touch – any possible debris.
“If you find any metal or unusual objects in your yard or property that may be debris from the helicopter crash near Main Street and Sunset, please contact the Lino Lakes Police Department at (763) 427-1212. Do not pick up or move the object. “
The type of helicopter
In the hours after the crash, Sommer had said the wreckage was too damaged to determine how many people were killed, and what type of helicopter it was.
But on Friday morning they'd determined it was a 1982 Fairchild Hiller FH-1100. The craft had been in the air, apparently without any mechanical issues, earlier in the day. The crash happened during its second flight, after taking off from Anoka County Airport in Blaine.
That model is produced by the FH1100 Manufacturing Corps. in Florida. Helis.com says it has a single engine and two blades, and is used for a number of purposes, including private civilian, law enforcement, and rescue operations. The Aviation Safety Network has 70 incidents involving the Hiller FH-1100 on record, with about two-thirds of them resulting in fatalities.
The Federal Aviation Administration, as well as the National Transportation Safety Board, will investigate the cause. The Lino Lakes Police Department will continue to investigate as well.