Two Ballarat men injured in helicopter crash at Lethbridge

Airport owner Garry Baum became emotional describing the scene. Photo: Lachlan Bence.
Airport owner Garry Baum became emotional describing the scene. Photo: Lachlan Bence.

The survival of two men involved in a helicopter crash at Lethbridge Airport on Thursday is being described as a miracle.

The two Ballarat men, in their 30s, suffered only minor injuries after a Robinson 44 chopper crashed into grass alongside the runway at the tiny airport south of Meredith.

One man was airlifted to Royal Melbourne Hospital in a stable condition with lower back injuries while a second man received just a cut on his head and was taken to Ballarat Base Hospital.

Airport owner Garry Baum, who was first on the scene, said he feared the worst when he saw the wreckage.

“One man was laying on the ground with some back injuries and I could talk to him and he said he was alright, the other person was there with a small cut to his head and he appeared to be okay as well,” Mr Baum said.

“They’d both managed to get out of the aircraft. I checked the helicopter over and there was no sign of fire, but the chopper was severely damaged. 

“It looks like it’s skidded on the underside of the aircraft and rolled on its side and self destructed itself.

Watch the video with Mr Baum here.

Acting Senior Sergeant Peter Anderson said investigations would determine whether it was pilot or mechanical error. 

“I think it was travelling at reasonably low altitude, it’s got out of shape in flight. 

“It would have been at a modest speed judging by the distance it’s travelled after hitting the ground. 

“The two people on board are extremely lucky, it’s not everyday you manage to walk away from a helicopter crash.”

Acting Senior Sergeant Peter Anderson

Acting Senior Sergeant Peter Anderson

EARLIER, 12pm: The owner of the Lethbridge Airport was one of the first on scene and said he arrived before emergency services.

Garry Baum described the helicopter as a four-seater Robinson 44, which could typically be used for such things as flying over the Twelve Apostles.

He estimated it to be worth about $600,000.

Mr Baum said he found one man lying on the ground and the damage to the helicopter was severe.

“One was lying on the ground with some back injuries and I could talk to him and he said he was alright and that he just wanted to stay there,” he said.

“The actual helicopter is severely damaged except for the cockpit, but even the cockpit windows and glass were broken.

“It's quite damaged around there and headsets and stuff have flung out everywhere and I just wouldn't like to imagine being in there.”

CFA operations officer Tony Field has also addressed the media.

Watch his video here.

Ambulance Victoria says a man has been taken to Ballarat hospital in a stable condition.

Another man has been airlifted to the Royal Melbourne hospital also in a stable condition.

Its is believed both man are from Ballarat and are aged in their 30s.

In 2015 a man in his 80s who was recreational pilot for several years was killed in a light plane crash at the airport.

EARLIER: A helicopter has crashed at Lethbridge Airport, just off the Midland Highway between Ballarat and Geelong.

The crash occurred about 10.15am.

The full extent of the injuries are not yet known, although they are not believed to be serious.

It is believed two people are in a stable condition, although one is being transported by the air ambulance.

At least five CFA vehicles attended the incident, while mutliple paramedics and police are also on scene.

Watch the air ambulance taking off.

Fire crews have doused the wreckage of the aircraft with foam due to a fuel leak.

The Lethbridge Airport is predominantly used as a recreational airport, with joyflights, flying lessons and clubs operating out of the area.

It is not yet known what caused the crash.