NTSB releases preliminary report on deadly Williamsburg helicopter crash

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WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — It’s only been a few weeks since a helicopter crashed in Williamsburg, killing the pilot and a woman on the ground.  The helicopter left the airport and crashed into a condo complex a few miles away. 

The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report on the crash on Tuesday. 

It happened at the Bristol Commons Condo Complex on Settlement Drive, around 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 8.

The pilot, 85-year-old Henry Schwarz, died.  A resident, 91-year-old Jean Lonchak Danylko, was also killed. 

Officials say Schwarz left the Williamsburg airport and flew for about three nautical miles before something went wrong. 

One witness told officials the helicopter looked like it was flying low to the ground.  Another witness reported the helicopter was “rocking back and forth unsteadily” just before it pitched downward and crashed into the roof of the building.

Officials say as the chopper approached the condo complex, it started descending at a rate greater than 10,000 feet per minute.

They also say a post-crash fire destroyed almost all of the chopper’s instruments and equipment.  The crash also started a fire.

This is just the preliminary report.  The NTSB says it could take up to 18 months to get the exact cause of the crash.

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