What was initially described as a non-injury emergency landing of a helicopter at Swami's Beach in Encinitas was actually a training flight that went awry, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Two instructor pilots who took off from Palomar Airport on a Robertson R22 Thursday morning were practicing an "...auto rotation procedure'' above an empty beach around 8 a.m. when the helicopter's tail boom broke, said Ian Gregor of the FAA.
The procedure involves "...safely sitting a helicopter down when it loses power,'' Gregor said.
"From what I understand, in this case, they set the helicopter down and then it sunk down in the sand a bit. That's when the rotor blades hit the tail boom,'' he said.
National Transportation Safety Board and FAA officials are inspecting the helicopter at a nearby salvage yard, where it was towed yesterday afternoon after FAA officials took photographs at the accident site, Gregor said.
Gregor said there was nothing wrong with the pilots practicing the
"They were practicing a critical skills maneuver over an empty beach and that's perfectly acceptable for a helicopter,'' he said.