PORT Campbell helicopter pilot Barry Thompson and his son Scott were lucky to survive a fire which destroyed their $1 million helicopter near the Western Australia border.
The Thompsons where flying from Ceduna en route to Border Village, then Forrest and Kalgoorlie when they smelt smoke about 80 kilometres west of Ceduna late yesterday afternoon.
Scott Thompson said everything happened pretty quickly after they smelt smoke.
"We immediately decided to land as quickly as we could," he said.
"I poked my head out the door when we were half stopped, got hold of the fire extinguisher but the fire just got too big too quick.
"I said to Dad, get out. We grabbed a bag and ran from it. Then we watched it burn to the ground in the next five minutes."
Mr Thompson said he thought they landed close to a farm house but it turned out the home was seven or eight kilometres away.
"They picked us up while we were halfway to the place," he said.
"I've obviously never been involved in anything like that and Dad has been around helicopters for 18 years and never seen anything like it.
"I now know they burn pretty quick and when it's time to jump, you jump."
Mr Thompson said during the ordeal he never felt threatened.
"I didn't feel my life in danger at all. We just jumped out because it was on fire. It was lucky we weren't in our other helicopter because it's on av-gas and that burns 10 times faster," he said.
"It's all insured, they're worth too much not to be insured. We were just going for a leisurely flight. We got away a bit late and were on the way to Border Village, Forrest and then Kalgoorlie.
"We do a lot of contract jobs in the outback. I've been that way four times and Dad a heap of times."
Scott Thompson is the brother of AFL club Adelaide Crows backman Luke Thompson.
Police said Barry Thompson, 52, landed safety after he and his son Scott, 23, noticed a fire in the rear of the helicopter engine.
But, flames quickly engulfed the six-seater Eurocopter, destroying the craft.
Luke Thompson lists on the AFL official website that his favourite pastime is flying helicopters. Both Scott and Luke played football with the Timboon Demons and Barry was a club official.