The pilot killed in a fiery helicopter crash on Monday has been positively identified as 22 year old Stephen Nelson of Indiana. Nelson was piloting a S-55 Sikorsky helicopter for Golden Wings Aviation of Brewster. This was his second year of flying for the local agricultural operation. Golden Wings has multiple regional contracts related to the tree fruit industry. Cherries are susceptible to splitting dry after summer rains if the moisture is not blown off either by ground level equipment or helicopters.
Witness reported the helicopter piloted by Nelson had just flown over a block of cherry trees and was turning to fly back when it hit power lines 40-50 feet above the ground. The helicopter crashed to the ground and burst into flames. The cherry orchard is located in the Boyd District near Chelan just off of Purteman Gulch Road.
Chelan County Coroner Wayne Harris determined Nelson died of “asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation”. He was the lone occupant of the helicopter.
Chelan County Sheriff Sergeant Rob Huddleston tells us that deputies remained on the scene of the accident to preserve the evidence until the National Transportation Safety board and the Federal Aviation officials arrived.…..
Multiple sources are also reporting that a second Golden Wings Aviation Helicopter had been involved in an accident earlier this month.. Sources say Danny Smith, was the pilot of that helicopter, which managed a controlled crash landing in a Gebbers Farms orchard several miles north of Brewster after it couldn’t get enough power to combat a severe downdraft of wind. Neither Smith nor his passenger was injured.
The helicopters in both accidents are reported to be Korean War-era Sikorsky S-55s, referred to in the military as H-19s.