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The Latest: Pilot: Helicopter engine failed before crash

May 4, 2019

NEW CANEY, Texas (AP) — The Latest on the crash of a helicopter in Texas (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

The pilot of a homebuilt helicopter that crashed on a rain-softened grassy area in Texas says the engine sputtered and quit before the accident.

Danny Whitten of Porter, Texas, told The Associated Press that he’s not sure why the engine failed before Saturday’s crash in New Caney, 25 miles (40.23 kilometers) northeast of Houston. Whitten says he was alone on the two-person rotorcraft and suffered minor bruises.

Emergency responders found the aircraft on its side.

Whitten, who’s associated with Southwest Gyroplanes, says he flew to Cleveland, Texas, and was returning to Anahuac (AN’-uh-whak), where the chopper is based. He was cruising at about 95 mph (152.88 kph), at an altitude of 1,500 feet (457.2 meters), when the engine died.

Whitten says the rotorcraft, which he built in 2016, hit a small tree before crashing.

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3:30 p.m.

Investigators say a homebuilt single-person helicopter has crashed on a grassy area near a Houston-area church.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the accident happened Saturday in New Caney as the rotorcraft attempted to make an emergency landing. FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford says the aircraft struck a tree while trying to land.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that the pilot survived and was believed to be OK.

The East Montgomery County Fire Department reports that the chopper apparently was at an altitude of about 1,500 feet (457.2 meters) when an unspecified emergency happened and the pilot tried to land.

Further details weren’t immediately available. Messages left with the sheriff’s office weren’t immediately returned Saturday.

New Caney is 25 miles (40.23 kilometers) northeast of Houston.