Rancho Santa Fe man, Cardiff passenger killed in helicopter crash


A pilot and a passenger killed in a fiery helicopter crash that shut down the runway at McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad have been publicly identified.

Bruce Allen Erickson, 65, of Rancho Santa Fe and his 60-year-old passenger, Wayne Frank Lewis of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, died as a result of a crash and fire that occurred as they were practicing landings at the general-aviation facility on Palomar Airport Road shortly before 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, the county Medical Examiner’s Office said.

The Airbus AS350 helicopter’s tail hit the ground as it approached the landing pad. The body of the chopper then hit the ground, spun out and went up in flames, authorities said.

Emergency crews were still extinguishing the resulting fire a half-hour later, according to North County Dispatch.

The crash prompted a closure of the single-runway airport. McClellan-Palomar Airport has since reopened to helicopter operations, according to the county Department of Public Works.

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were summoned to the accident site following the crash, according to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.