Three tourists and a pilot had a lucky escape when a helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing north of Broome on Friday.
An eyewitness who saw the helicopter plunge from the sky about 11.25am said it landed “really hard” on the road to Coconut Wells, 15km from Broome, snapping the tail on impact.
He said it appeared to be a controlled emergency landing close to a fork in the road at Lawrence and William roads.
“(It) came down really hard on the road and the tail was chopped off,” he said.
“The pilot did a magnificent job of getting it down.”
The man, who asked not be named, said he had to wait on the road until the rotor stopped spinning before he could continue on his way.
All of the occupants were out of the aircraft and did not appear injured when he passed.
“Everyone was a bit shook up, that was it,” he said.
A spokesman for AusSAR said an EPIRB on board the aircraft was automatically triggered by the heavy landing, which alerted a Customs coast watch vessel. In turn, it notified Broome’s airport control tower.
The Brisbane AusSAR centre was also alerted to the possible loss of a helicopter by satellite signal and dispatched the Customs plane to locate the chopper, which it spotted from the air.
The helicopter pilot notified their head office after landing and also informed AusSAR that the four people aboard were okay.