Wind Might Have Played Role In Helicopter Crash

CLEVELAND – 19/43 News' Ed Gallek has learned that, despite normal weather conditions, wind might have played a critical role in last week's fatal helicopter crash.

NewsHawk19 pilot Leo Basile said that even on a calm night, the winds up around helipads could be dangerously tricky. That fact might explain why sources close to the investigation said they are looking at the possibility that sharp winds played a role in the crash.

Basile said that taking off is perhaps the most dangerous part of flying a helicopter.

"You're always at a high power setting, so should anything malfunction, you don't have a whole lot of time and space to correct that," Basile said. "Up above, the air can flow pretty freely."

On Tuesday, a professor of physics at Case Western Reserve University analyzed the crash site for 19/43 News. Dr. Bob Brown found conditions on the ground to be calm, but found a different story up on the helipad.

"As the air is coming from these wide open spaces, behind us big buildings around us can make a mess of the wind, and it can be quite turbulent next to the walls," Brown said.

Investigators said that the MedEvac chopper took off, clipped one hospital tower and then plowed into another, crashing down and then exploding.

The crash is mysterious because the pilot was experienced, and the helipad in question is generous in size.

"Normally, every time I fly over it, it amazes me how big the pads are," Basile said. "That's a very big landing facility."

Investigators said that they are still looking at many possible causes, including the wind.

The leading causes of helicopter crashes in the last decade are mechanical problems and hitting trees or wires.