2 dead after helicopter crashes in Chandler following mid-air collision with plane


Two people are dead after a helicopter collided mid-air with a small plane before crashing Friday near the Chandler airport.
According to the Chandler Fire Department, a mid-air collision between a helicopter and a fixed-wing plane was reported near the Chandler Municipal Airport
The crash reportedly happened around 7:30 a.m., on the south side of the airport.
The helicopter appeared to be in the flight path of the incoming plane, and landing gear clip the rotor of the helicopter,” said witness Matthew Trent.
Authorities say while the plane landed safely, the helicopter crashed and exploded on impact.
SkyFOX video showed a fire crew using a tarp to cover the helicopter’s burned wreckage in brush. Fire officials said two people on board the helicopter died. It is unclear if they died in the crash or the fire. Chandler Police officials have since identified the two people who died as 34-year-old Michael Papendick and 27-year-old Jessica Brandal.
The plane, identified by FAA officials as a Piper PA-28, was upright on the ground, just off a runway. The plane suffered a damaged landing gear, but the fuselage appeared intact. A flight instructor and a student who were onboard the plane were not hurt. Chandler Police officials say they are not releasing the identities of those onboard the plane.
Police said the helicopter and plane were operated by two flight schools, Quantum Helicopters and Flight Operations Academy.
“Our officers [are] taking it pretty hard. We have our stress management people out here to get them help if they need it,” said Chandler Police Sgt. Jason McClimans.
“These people that [died] today, hopefully died doing what they love. What better way to go,” said Trent
Hours after the crash, it has emerged that Pappendick was studying to become a pilot.
Papendick, a Navy veteran, reportedly started training to become a helicopter pilot weeks ago. He was the sole provider for his family, as well as the proud father of an 11-month-old who will celebrate her first birthday later on in the month.
“There’s no words, really. My heart’s broken for my sister right now. They were about to start trying for baby number two,” said Papendick’s sister-in-law, Rachel Lima.
Papendick was studying to become an EMS pilot, and only had about 30 hours under his belt. Lima said her sister, Rebecca, had a gut feeling that something terrible happened to her husband.
“You never think something like this happens to you, you know. This is something that happens to other people, not you, so when you’re faced with that reality for a moment, you know your first reaction is to kind of to deny it, and that’s what we did, really, so it was tough when we when we did find out that our suspicions were confirmed,” said Lima.
Papendick was remembered for his sense of humor, and the joy he brought to his loved ones.
“Just the most precious person. I’m so grateful to have known him for the short period of time that I did, because you don’t meet very many people like him. He was one of a kind and he is a wonderful, wonderful man, and he gave everything he had to everybody,” said Lima.
Area residents react
Some who live in the area say air traffic in the area has really increased over the years, with lots of small planes and helicopters fighting for airspace. Those residents also say they are not that surprised that something like this happened.
“You know that something is going to happen, because there’s so many small planes are coming from that way and trying to land.” said Lynn Becker, who has lived in the area for 30 years.


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