PORT Campbell helicopter pilot Barry Thompson and his son Scott have survived a fire which destroyed their $1 million helicopter in remote South Australia.
The Thompsons made an emergency landing about 80 kilometres west of Ceduna in South Australia late Tuesday afternoon after they smelt smoke on the first stage of a flight to Kalgoorlie.
The crash took place 80 kms west of Ceduna.
Scott Thompson, 23, said everything happened quickly.
“We immediately decided to land as quickly as we could,” he said.
“I poked my head out the door when we were half-stopped and 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.
“The we watched it burn to the ground in the next five minutes.”
Mr Thompson said he thought they landed close to a farmhouse 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 avgas and that burns 10 times faster,” he said.
“It’s all insured, they’re worth too much not 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,” said Mr Thompson, who is the brother of AFL club Adelaide Crows backman Luke Thompson.
Police said Barry Thompson, 52, landed safely noticing a fire in the rear of the helicopter engine.
But flames quickly engulfed the six-seater Eurocopter.
Both Scott and Luke played football with the Timboon Demons and Barry was a club official.