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Redding pilot survives helicopter crash while working marijuana eradication in Oregon

By Kelli Saam
Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:02:04 AM CST
Updated On: Aug 13 2013 02:46:54 PM CDT
helicopter crash photo
RED BLUFF, Calif. -

A Redding pilot walked away from a crash-landing in Oregon.  He was piloting a helicopter that had been contracted to fly for marijuana eradication in northern Harney County, Oregon.

The pilot Thomas Levanger, 29 of Redding, and a deputy flying with him both walked away uninjured.

The Harney County Sheriff's Office said the helicopter experienced engine failure resulting in the total destruction of the aircraft. The McDonnell Douglas Model 369 E was 400 feet off of the ground when the engine failed causing the pilot to auto rotate to a narrow forest service road near Calamity Butte.  The crash scene is near Burns, Oregon.

The helicopter is owned by P J Helicopters of Red Bluff.   The aircraft was being leased by the U. S. Department of Justice to fly for marijuana eradication. Harney County Deputy Sheriff Chris Nisbet was a passenger in the helicopter at the time of the incident. There were no apparent injuries.

The aircraft struck the ground causing the rear rotor, landing gear, and main rotors to be damaged. The National Transportation and Safety Board were notified and are conducting an investigation.

Security was posted at the crash scene and P J Helicopters was expected to remove the aircraft Tuesday.