Lawyer pilot killed in crash at Kadoorie Farm

A helicopter pilot was burned to death when his aircraft crashed and burst into flames at the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Tai Po yesterday.

Jane Cheung and Sophie Hui

Monday, May 20, 2019

A helicopter pilot was burned to death when his aircraft crashed and burst into flames at the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Tai Po yesterday.

The charred body of the airman was found in the scattered remains of the helicopter.

Sources said the pilot was a lawyer, Andrew Wong Fai-hung, who had just renewed his pilot's license yesterday. He was with Pansy Leung Tang & Chua in Central.

A spokesman for Kadoorie said no visitors or staff were injured as the park was closed at the time. He said the helicopter was owned by a private organization.

The crash happened at 5.30pm. The Fire Services Department received a report about the crash on the hillside of Lam Kam Road in Pat Heung. The helicopter plunged into a hill like a fireball.

The Robinson R44 is a four-seater light helicopter produced by Robinson Helicopter since 1992.

Jonathan Ho Wang-leung, senior accident and safety investigator, said the helicopter left Shek Kong airport at 4.40pm and was flying on a planned route.

Ho said the front of the helicopter was on fire and the pilot's body was found 20 meters away.

A source at the scene said the helicopter flew near the farm but was soon seen disintegrating in the air along with what sounded like explosions.

The fuselage and tail of the helicopter were separated. Several explosions followed the plunge on to hillside a dozen meters behind the farm's office.

Firemen put out the blaze in 20 minutes.

The police released a photo of the helicopter. The silvery blue craft was severely battered. Some of its parts were blackened. Firemen sprayed jets of water on the aircraft.

Small parts of the helicopter were scattered on the ground. Some landed on Lam Kam Road.

The farm said it would be closed today.

Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho, who is also a professional pilot, said if the aircraft exploded in the air, it was likely caused by failure in the engine or the fuel system.

"If it did disassemble in the air, it's crucial to find out what happened to the helicopter," he said.

On June 25 last year, a pilot escaped with injuries to his head when his light aircraft crashed on Ma Shi Chau Nature Trail near Tai Po.

The 23-year-old pilot, who only had three months of flying experience, flew the aircraft that he rented from the Hong Kong Aviation Club at Shek Kong but hit technical difficulties near Ma Shi Chau before crashing on the nature trail.

He walked out of the aircraft and was rushed to hospital.

In August 2003, a Government Flying Service helicopter crashed at Pak Kung Au on Lantau as it was carrying injured people. The pilot, Pang Fu-kwok, and the air crew officer, Chan Man-tik, died in the crash.

In July 2010, a helicopter was carrying 11 passengers and two crew members from Sheung Wan when the propeller flew off. The pilot landed in Victoria Harbour. No one was injured.