Pilot makes emergency landing in Hayward after chopper struck by vulture

HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) -- A student pilot and his instructor were able to walk away from their helicopter after making an emergency landing. It all happened after they were hit by a bird.

"It was pretty crazy!" says Randy Acosta.

Acosta and his friends were playing a round of golf at Skywest Golf Course in Hayward. The pilots, who launched from the Hayward Executive airport, made their emergency landing near the 10 th hole of the course.

RELATED: Radio traffic catches moment helicopter was forced to land after hitting vulture in Hayward
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Air traffic caught the exchange that happened as the pilot was attempting to set a helicopter down after hitting a vulture.



Acosta says they were one hole behind from where the chopper came down.

"You could see the helicopter pilot kind of had it (turn) strongly to the right, regain control and then it went down and he maintained control," says Acosta.

Airport officials say a large turkey vulture, which can have a wingspan of up to six feet wide, hit the windshield shortly after the pilots took off.

A student pilot was flying, but then his instructor immediately took over after being hit.

"It was a miraculous landing when you think about it. The tail rotor which maintains directional flight for the helicopter was impaired and the instructor was able to still land the helicopter safely," explains airport manager, Doug McNeeley.

McNeeley says the pilots flew about half a mile when they were hit.
Victor Toy and his group came to see what happened after the chopper landed and were amazed that no one was injured in the crash.

"I thought, aww man, that doesn't look good at all," says Toy. "Then I look at it now, (and think) that's an incredible pilot. The way that it was out of control. To land it the way it is. That's pretty amazing. That's awesome skill."

The two pilots were able to walk away uninjured but shaken up.

Airport officials say it is rare to have problems with birds at this airport. The NTSB will also be investigating.
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