Report describes how Henderson helicopter pilot killed in Grand Canyon

KINGMAN, Ariz. — A Henderson resident killed in a helicopter accident in the Grand Canyon had exited the aircraft he was piloting when it rolled and fatally injured him in northwest Arizona May 18.

So says a National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report on the incident that claimed the life of Michel Poppen.

Poppen was flying an AS350 Eurocopter owned by the Las Vegas-based Papillon tour company when he landed at the bottom of the Grand Canyon near the Grand Canyon West tourism destination on the Hualapai Reservation. The NTSB report indicated that the helicopter was positioned about 380 feet west of the Colorado River when the accident occurred about 4 p.m.

The report stated that Poppen exited the running helicopter to perform a fluid level check when it somehow became airborne.

“The helicopter subsequently impacted the ground and rolled over,” the report stated. “The pilot was struck by one or more of the main rotor blades and was fatally injured.”

The NTSB report said no abnormalities with the helicopter’s airframe or engine systems were noted by the on scene investigative team. The aircraft was removed as part of a continuing investigation.

Papillon issued a statement supporting the pilot and his family after the accident but would provide no information regarding the flight and whether passengers had been dropped off or were being picked up.

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