Dramatic scenes have unfolded at a beach in NSW after the pilot of a gyrocopter spotted a shark stalking a surfer in the water below.
But in their attempts to warn him about the danger, it became the rescuers who needed rescuing after the aircraft crashed into the water.
Surfer Billy Ballard was in the water at Wallagoot Beach, south of Tathra, when he saw the gyrocopter hovering above him.
He had been surfing near a pod of dolphins, without realising they were taking part in a feeding frenzy with a school of salmon and a large shark.
Initially he thought the flyers were getting a close look at the dolphins, until he looked up and they were “hanging off the side” of the aircraft screaming “shark, shark”.
“When they dropped pretty low to the water I started to freak out, I turned and started paddling towards the beach,” Mr Ballard told 7News.
The pilot’s attempt to scare off the shark and warn the surfer resulted in them flying so low they were unable to regain altitude.
Mr Ballard witnessed the pilot’s desperate attempt to make it to the beach but instead it “smacked” into the waves further down the beach.
As he rushed to help them, he recorded a video capturing the unbelievable moment.
“A light helicopter just crashed trying to warn me about a shark that was swimming around me. Can you f***ing believe this? Holy s**t,” he says to the camera.
As the red gyrocopter lies on its side in the shallows, a woman tells the surfer how close he came to the predator.
“Where was the shark?” Mr Ballard asks her.
“Around you! It was so close to you I was panicking.”
Mr Ballard said he was “thankful” for the heroic strangers, and admitted he hasn’t gone on a solo surfing trip since the incident.
Pod of dolphins ‘warned’ him of shark
Thinking back on his brush with death, Mr Ballard realised the dolphins had been behaving strangely and were perhaps trying to warn him of the danger lurking nearby.
“They were acting super weird, I thought maybe they were just trying to catch fish that were underneath me but I couldn’t see any fish (at the time),” he told the Daily Telegraph.
“They were just doing this weird herding thing, trying to push me into the beach and getting so close that they were literally nudging my foot.”
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