FORT MYERS, Fla. (WSVN) — Employees at a furniture store in Fort Myers were startled by a loud boom that reverberated through the vicinity Thursday morning.
At first, they suspected that a vehicle had collided with the store, but upon inspection, they found no signs of any such accident. To their surprise, local deputies made an unusual discovery – a helicopter door resting on the store’s roof.
Neither individuals on the ground nor the five occupants aboard the helicopter suffered any injuries in the incident.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has launched an investigation into the matter and confirmed that the door belonged to a privately owned 1982 B-105 helicopter registered in Montana.
According to information from a flight tracking app, the helicopter had taken off just before 10 a.m. from a small airport in Fort Myers.
Shortly after takeoff, the door detached and fell off during a short-distance flight, landing back at the airport moments later.
The incident has raised concerns among onlookers, prompting questions about how such an event could occur.
Captain Shem Malmquist, an aviation instructor, offered his perspective.
“It’s the kind of thing that really shouldn’t happen. Doors pop open on light aircraft fairly commonly, but to have the door depart the airplane or the vehicle, in this case, a helicopter, is obviously not something we want.”
Malmquist emphasized the significance of examining maintenance records as a starting point in the investigation. If all maintenance checks were in order, authorities will likely turn their attention to the helicopter’s manufacturer.
“They would want to ensure that the design was such that something like this was likely,” he added.
Authorities will investigate the possibility of operator error, including whether the door was correctly latched or if passengers attempted to open it during the flight.
It is worth noting that helicopters are not pressurized like commercial aircraft, which means doors may have different vulnerabilities.
The FAA is working on a preliminary incident report, expected to be completed in the next day or so.
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