TWIN FALLS – Michael Lattin of Elko, Nev., walked away uninjured after the helicopter he was piloting crashed just south of Twin Falls Regional Airport about 9 a.m. Sunday.
Lattin was inbound alone when he alerted the control tower that he had mechanical problems. Ed Morris of Twin Falls Fire Department, who was first on the scene, said Lattin told him he thought a rotor bearing went out.
“He was not able to control the main rotor,” Morris said, adding there was no fuel leak or fire.
Morris said the small-piston ‘Endstrom’ model was operated by Canyon Construction of Elko, but he did not know whether Lattin was an employee or owner of the company.
Lattin, described by other responders as an experienced pilot, performed calmly under pressure, Morris said. He was able to lower the helicopter enough before losing control that the cockpit stayed intact upon impact.
“He did a really good job,” Morris said.
The helicopter crashed in an agricultural field near 2800 East Road and 3300 North Road.
Twin Falls Fire Department Battalion Chief Jack Barnes, another responder, said Lattin was “an older gentleman” possibly in his late 50s, although his exact age was not available Sunday evening.
“He was up and around before any of us got there,” Barnes said. “There were no big problems of any kind.”
Federal Aviation Administration officials interviewed Lattin Sunday morning, and Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office representatives took photos of the wreckage. The FAA then released the helicopter to Lattin, and it was expected to be housed in an airport hangar temporarily.
Lattin had a predicable reaction to the close call, Barnes said.
“He was thankful.”