Las Vegas man killed in helicopter crash west of Santa Paula
A Las Vegas man was killed Friday morning when the helicopter he was flying crashed into the Santa Clara River bottom about three miles west of the Santa Paula Airport.
The pilot, identified Saturday as 42-year-old Philip Isaac Margolis III, apparently had rented the helicopter about 9 a.m. at Oxnard Airport and was expected to return at about 10 a.m.
But at 10:13 a.m., the Santa Paula and Ventura County Fire departments responded to a report of a downed helicopter and a small fire near the 900 block of Corporation Road.
It is not clear if Margolis clipped power lines south of Highway 126 during his descent or as a cause of the descent but the fallen lines started a small fire in riverbed bamboo. A couple of hundred yards from the downed power lines the helicopter crashed.
Although there was no fire where the helicopter hit the ground, the force of the crash mangled the copter, bending its rotor blades.
Emergency responders declared Margolis dead at the scene and covered his body with a yellow tarp until the Medical Examiner could arrive for a preliminary investigation and to transport the body.
Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also responded to the scene; the NTSB will lead the investigation. It usually issues a preliminary report within a few weeks but takes months to determine a probable cause.
Santa Paula Fire helped extinguish the fire in the bamboo and kept the blaze to under an acre.
Members of Margolis’ family came to the scene but were kept from the crash site.
Margolis had rented the Robinson R22 from Channel Islands Helicopters and filled up the tank before taking off at about 9 a.m. He reportedly was practicing at the Oxnard Airport before leaving for Camarillo, later received clearance to leave Camarillo air space and headed toward Santa Paula where he crashed.
The exact cause of Margolis’ death will be released following an autopsy.
A crew from Southern California Edison de-energized the fallen power lines and three customers were without power until late that evening.
Channel Islands Helicopters has been providing flight services and instruction since 2009.
The R22 is a two-seated, two-bladed, single-engine helicopter manufactured by Robinson Helicopter Co. since 1979. The Channel Islands Helicopters website notes a Robinson R22 was added to its flight instruction fleet in September 2013.
The Robinson R22 is a two-bladed, single-engine light utility helicopter manufactured by Robinson Helicopter. The cruise speed for the 29-foot-
R22 is 110 mph.
Friday’s crash was the second fatal helicopter incident that occurred in the Santa Clara River Valley in the past five years: on January 31, 2009, a Japanese man left Camarillo Airport and lost control of his Robinson R22 helicopter, crashing along the Santa Clara River in the Piru area.
Elsewhere in Ventura County two Southern California Edison workers - a 48-year-old Upper Ojai man and 41-year-old Temecula man - were killed September 6, 2006, when their helicopter crashed while they were checking power lines north of Somis.