Tour Helicopter En Route to Grand Canyon Makes Emergency Landing After Bird Strike

Damage to helicopter

The pilot's side of the helicopter's canopy was damaged by the bird strike. NPS photo.

Six tourists from London signed up for a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon, but their flight took a frightening detour, and ended far short of their intended destination.

At about 5:40 p.m. on Monday, a tour helicopter operated by Maverick Helicopters, Inc. struck a bird while flying over Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

The aircraft was en route to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas when the incident occurred. The pilot was able to make an emergency landing on the River Mountains Loop Trail, which is located in the northwest corner of Lake Mead National Recreation Area, only a few miles from Boulder City, Nevada.

According to information from the park,

Game wardens from the Nevada Department of Wildlife saw the damaged helicopter land on the trail, a paved multi-use path, and responded to the scene. They provided first aid while National Park Service rangers responded.

The pilot suffered a laceration to the face requiring stitches. He was transported to the hospital by park service ambulance. None of the six passengers aboard were injured.

The tour operator sent a van to transport the passengers back to Las Vegas.

Given the rugged terrain at both Lake Mead and Grand Canyon—not mention the vast amount of water in the lake itself—this situation could have ended badly. The pilot, identified by the Las Vegas Sun as David Supe, 25, did a fine job in handling the emergency and bringing it to a safe conclusion.