A well-known television helicopter pilot was killed Friday afternoon when a 1969 Bell UH-1H crashed into a Mesa, Arizona park. Chip Paige, 55, was the sole passenger and one of two aboard the aircraft, N3276T, owned by Bell Asset Management of Higley, Arizona. The pilot, identified by law enforcement as Albert Hayden, survived with serious injuries.
Witness video of the accident shows the helicopter in a descending spin before impacting terrain. Numerous post-accident media reports said the helicopter’s tail rotor was recovered 1.12 miles from the impact site.
The flight originated at Los Angeles Whiteman Airport with an intermediate fuel stop in Blythe, California, and was en route to Falcon Field in Mesa. Paige, who held ATP and helicopter certificates, was a pilot-reporter for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles between 2002 and 2009. He currently served as president of Pacific Aviation Holdings in Scottsdale, an aircraft management firm that specialized in late-model Gulfstreams. The accident helicopter, S/N 69-15911, was originally built for the U.S. Army. It was rebuilt after a serious long-lining accident following an engine failure in 2008. At that time, records indicated it had accumulated 11,702 hours of airframe time.