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2 killed, including Embry-Riddle professor, in Valley helicopter crash

(Van Horn Aviation Photo)

PHOENIX – Two people, including a Prescott university professor, were killed Tuesday morning when a helicopter crashed about 25 miles outside of Phoenix, authorities said.

A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said the copter went down in a farm field around 7 a.m. at Fort McDowell Indian Reservation, near Fountain Hills.

The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Fire Department rushed to the scene and found the Bell 206 engulfed in flames. The aircraft had left from Falcon Field Airport in Mesa.

Fire Chief Mark Openshaw said in an email to KTAR News 92.3 FM that witnesses saw the helicopter then heard a loud bang and watched it spiral to the ground.

Tempe-based Van Horn Aviation identified the pilots as Rucie Moore, a contract experimental test pilot, and Stephen Estes, an engineer who had worked for the company for five years.

“We mourn the loss of our friends during this tragic accident,” VHA president Dean Rosenlof said in a press release.

“Both men contributed greatly to the design and development of our most recent rotor blade designs. Their passing will leave large holes in our company and they will both be missed personally and professionally.”

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University said in a press release that Moore was the chair of the college’s helicopter program.

Moore was a full-time faculty member at the Prescott campus for about a year and a former U.S. Army helicopter test pilot, the release said.

“His many contributions to the education of our students, including his extensive real world experience, was immeasurable,” Dr. Frank Ayers, Chancellor of Embry-Riddle’s Prescott campus, said in the release.

“The entire Embry-Riddle family, our faculty, students and staff, feel his loss and extend our thoughts and prayers to his family.”

No other details were made available.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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