FORT MCDOWELL INDIAN RESERVATION, Ariz. (AP/FOX 10) - Authorities say two bodies have been found at the site of a helicopter crash on the Fort McDowell Indian Reservation near Phoenix.
Van Horn Aviation reports the loss of their two colleagues aboard the Bell 206B JetRanger, Rucie Moore and Stephen Estes.
According to the company, Moore was an experimental test pilot and Estes an engineering manager.
“We mourn the loss of our friends during this tragic accident,” said VHA president Dean Rosenlof. “Both men contributed greatly to the design and development of our most recent rotor blade designs. Their passing will leave large holes in our company and they will both be missed personally and professionally.”
In a statement from Embry-Riddle University, officials confirm that Professor and Helicopter Program Chair, Rucie Moore, died in the crash.
Moore had worked with the university for over five years. Prior to Embry-Riddle, He was a decorated helicopter test pilot for the U.S. Army.
“Our dear colleague, Rucie Moore, was an outstanding pilot, an Army veteran and distinguished faculty member with deep experience in the flight test arena,” said Dr. Frank Ayers, Chancellor of Embry-Riddle’s Prescott campus. “His many contributions to the education of our students, including his extensive real-world experience, was immeasurable. The entire Embry-Riddle family, our faculty, students and staff, feel his loss and extend our thoughts and prayers to his family.”
The Family of Stephen Estes released the following statement.
"We are mourning the loss of Stephen, a beloved husband, son, brother, nephew, uncle, cousin, and friend. While grief is immeasurable, we are thankful for over 28 years of living in the midst of his infectious smile, competitive spirit, kind heart, and commitment to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
"We nearly lost Stephen 7 years ago when he was struck by a truck, and suffered a traumatic brain injury while helping an elderly couple involved in a wreck on the 202 near ASU. Stephen had a heart of gold that shone brightly wherever he went. His death leaves us grief-stricken, but not without hope."
"If Stephen could, he would remind us that "Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. We dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name."
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said only the pilot was believed aboard the helicopter, which he initially said was a Eurocopter EC135 but later said it was a Bell 206B on a flight from Falcon Field in Mesa.
Video from SkyFOX showed wreckage next to an apparent burned area in a farm field, along with possible small pieces of wreckage scattered on a dirt road some distance away.
Gregor said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.