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Channel 13 chopper crash kills 2 in Montgomery County


musicman

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A pilot and photographer who were working for Houston TV station KTRK Channel 13 died late this morning when their helicopter crashed in thick woods in Montgomery County.

The ABC affiliate confirmed that the aircraft's two occupants, who were employed by contractors, were killed in the crash. The station said it lost contact with the helicopter about 11:15 a.m.

The victims' names have not been released.

The station aired the final seconds of video it received from the helicopter. The video showed the helicopter banking to the right before the screen went to black.

No information is yet available on what caused the crash, which occurred as the two were on their way to report on a story. Smoke billowed from the site and fragments of the helicopter were visible from the air.

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That's the third Houston TV chopper crash I can remember. Air11 went down around 1999/2000. No one hurt. Around the same time SkyFox went down and I think one person died. Has 2 ever lost a helicopter?

No, but KPRC did lose a popular helicopter pilot back in 2001. When he wasn't flying KPRC reporters around, Rodney "Captain Rod" Hooks trained cutting horses and competed in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Cutting Horse event every year.

To be close to his horses, and save some money, he would always sleep in a sleeping compartment in his horse trailer in the rodeo parking lot. He was asphyxiated one night when he left his portable generator running inside the trailer. It was a cold night and he was using the generator to power a space heater. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

So sad. And amazing. A 20 year Army veteran who flew helicopters in Vietnam, and who had flown for KPRC for ten years, didn't know or realize that a small gasoline powered motor running in an enclosed space like a horse trailer would generate enough CO to kill him.

Edited by FilioScotia
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This is tragic, I loved Dave Garrett's Sky Eye reports.

You know,the funny thing is that they seemed to know more about what is going around them than the reporters that sit behind the desk.

There has many quite a few times when the air reporter would correct an anchor about a street/location/direction or what was happening on the ground.

That speaks ill of the anchors that are supposed to know this city backwards and forwards.

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No, but KPRC did lose a popular helicopter pilot back in 2001. When he wasn't flying KPRC reporters around, Rodney "Captain Rod" Hooks trained cutting horses and competed in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Cutting Horse event every year.

To be close to his horses, and save some money, he would always sleep in a sleeping compartment in his horse trailer in the rodeo parking lot. He was asphyxiated one night when he left his portable generator running inside the trailer. It was a cold night and he was using the generator to power a space heater. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

So sad. And amazing. A 20 year Army veteran who flew helicopters in Vietnam, and who had flown for KPRC for ten years, didn't know or realize that a small gasoline powered motor running in an enclosed space like a horse trailer would generate enough CO to kill him.

Wow, that's a name I haven't heard in a very long time. My aunt lived with his wife for a while after Rod's passing. Back around the time that I came to Houston, I visited the ranch in Alvin pretty frequently. I still have a couple of old jackets of Rod's hanging in my closet; I use them every winter.

I'd met Rod once or twice when I was in high school and just visiting up here. He really was a nice guy and a gracious host. Too bad about the circumstances.

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There have been a few lost over the years. Another that many here would be too young to remember would be Johnny Gilbert in the KULF Bird. I worked at the old 790 KULF in the late 1970s, and one night came across a tape of events surrounding the crash of the KULF Bird, a fixed wing aircraft. Johnny was killed in the crash while covering a fire in 1974. The tape had recordings of the cutoff of the last broadcast from the plane, a call from someone at KENR to KULF telling them about the crash, and a number of other recordings of the sad event.

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That's the third Houston TV chopper crash I can remember.

Air11 went down around 1999/2000. No one hurt.

Around the same time SkyFox went down and I think one person died.

Has 2 ever lost a helicopter?

I think I remember in 1990, Channel 2 had a helicopter that crashed. It was a MD-500.

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There have been a few lost over the years. Another that many here would be too young to remember would be Johnny Gilbert in the KULF Bird. I worked at the old 790 KULF in the late 1970s, and one night came across a tape of events surrounding the crash of the KULF Bird, a fixed wing aircraft. Johnny was killed in the crash while covering a fire in 1974. The tape had recordings of the cutoff of the last broadcast from the plane, a call from someone at KENR to KULF telling them about the crash, and a number of other recordings of the sad event.

I was working at KPRC radio when Johnny Gilbert was killed in '74. It was a terrible tragedy, but as much as I hate to say it, Gilbert did one of the dumbest things a pilot could do.

He flew in low to get a good closeup look at a chemical tank car fire at the Settegast RR yard on the northeast side. Witnesses said he was just a few hundred feet off the deck when he flew almost directly over the fire. The violent updraft threw his plane out of control and at that extremely low altitude, he didn't have the room or time to regain control. The plane rolled over on its back and spiraled into the ground.

My KPRC boss at the time -- news director Don Watson -- was old buddies with Gilbert from their days in Phoenix -- and the death of his friend hit him hard. He was so emotional he couldn't even go on the air. When the story was finally put to bed that night we all went out and got drunk.

That taped voice from someone at KENR was Chris Buckner, telling the KULF newscaster -- George Thomas -- what had happened.

Gilbert's death points up just one of the reasons pilots are not supposed to fly under 2000 feet over populated areas. If he'd been at that altitude, he might not have lost control. Even if he did go out of control he would have had enough altitude to straighten out and level off.

Edited by FilioScotia
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I remember the crash of the KULF Bird as I was a flying obsessed teenager at the time, I saw the wreckage after the Cessna had been moved to a hanger for the accident investigation.

Around 1976 when I was working on my pilot's license, a friend and I flew on the next KULF Bird with Dave Hale, who replaced Johnny Gilbert at KULF as their pilot.

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