Helicopter crash-lands in Mesa neighborhood


by Natalie Brand, Jennifer Thomas

Video report by Natalie Brand

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 6:09 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 24 at 1:54 PM

Map: Helicopter crash-lands in Mesa

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MESA, Ariz. -- A pilot walked away without injuries after crash-landing his homemade helicopter in a Mesa neighborhood Tuesday afternoon.

"It was just an unfortunate situation," said pilot Joe Goetz. "We fortunately built it right and we got another chance."

However, Goetz said he's going to have to retire his helicopter.

The Federal Aviation Administration is still investigating what caused the crash in the area of First Street and Barkley, but firefighters said the helicopter suffered some sort of power failure while traveling from Chandler to Falcon Field in Mesa.

Goetz recalled the tense moments in the air before he managed to make a hard landing on the sidewalk, skimming the side of a fire hydrant. He came to rest just feet from a home.

"I remember watching out for people around, parking lots and wires," Goetz said. "You just train properly."

Witnesses who live in the neighborhood praised Goetz's piloting skills and his ability to avoid buildings, people and danger.

"He did a good job; he did what he supposed to do," said Dale Scott, who rushed over following the crash to make sure the pilot was OK.

His neighbor Victor Allinger called 911 and took cellphone video of the chaos in the aftermath of the crash.

Allinger said he heard sputtering and watched the aircraft circle the area before it went down.

"He was going down," Allinger said. "He was losing altitude really fast, really quick."

Neighbors and responding firefighters credited the pilot for his actions and experience. The aircraft, built by Goetz himself, also had safety features which likely helped him escape uninjured.

"The gears were designed to collapse; the seat designed to collapse," Goetz told 3TV, which he said helped cushion the crash.

"You can buy another helicopter, but you can't buy  another life," Scott said.