They all walked away

The pilot of the private helicopter looks inside before the OPP and officials from the Transportation Safety Board arrive in Grand Bend.

Skilled pilot safely lands in Grand Bend after helicopter engine fails

Nick McCaan likes to watch the helicopters take off from the old tennis courts at Oakwood Golf Resort next to his house.

But even the 11 year-old could see something was going drastically wrong Thursday night just before 9 pm when a private helicopter began taking off.

Dressed in his pyjamas and bathed in the red emergency lights surrounding the helicopter, McCaan explained how he watched as the helicopter lifted off, but then – instead of going straight up over the trees like normal – the helicopter started moving “back and forth” and then went sideways out of his view.

“I heard a bang and then I didn’t hear the helicopter sound.”

Officials with the Grand Bend division of the Lambton Shores Fire Department say the private helicopter with four people on board, was trying to lift off when the engine quit. The pilot was able to safely land a few hundred feet away in a small yard.

The helicopter fit just between the side of a house on Oakwood Lane and Highway 21 on the outskirts of Grand Bend.

All four people walked away without injuries.

Michelle McCaan, Nick’s mother, says the pilot told her he struggled to get the helicopter over the trees because of strong gusts of wind. And she added he had to be a skillful pilot to miss the houses, the busy highway and the hydro wires to set the failing aircraft down safely.

The Transportation Safety Board is expected to probe what caused the engine to fail.