Mid-Air Collision Kills Two in Augusta County

A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration says a small plane and a medical helicopter collided Friday afternoon near the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport.

AirCare 5 and a Cessna 172 crashed mid-air around 2:30 p.m.

The Augusta County Sheriff's Office says the crash occurred on the 800 block of Weyers Cave Road.

Virginia State Police confirm that two people, who were both on the plane, have been killed.

The names of the victims have not been released, but VSP expect to release that information Saturday afternoon.

According to the FAA, the plane is registered to a Michael Price of Elkton.

According to a press conference by Virginia State Police, there was no patient on the helicopter, which was on its way back to the Valley after dropping a patient off in Charlottesville.

Another FAA spokesperson said the helicopter was damaged but landed safely with three people, a pilot and two medical crew, on board.

He says the occupants of the helicopter walked away and he was not aware of any injuries on the ground.

The plane landed in a field, but was still relatively intact.

The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the crash.

Should there be an emergency requiring a helicopter Friday night, resources will be brought in from other areas.

Planes are still landing at SHD as usual.

The NTSB says SHD is an "uncontrolled airport" meaning there is no air traffic control tower at the airport.

It is unclear whether or not both aircraft were trying to land at the time of the collision, but NTSB officials expect that archived off-site data such as radar will answer that question.

Officials at Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport are standing by their safety procedures.

Greg Campbell, the media representative for the airport, says air traffic control for the Weyers Cave airport is handled remotely by a group in Washington.

He says it is standard procedure for pilots to report their positions to those traffic controllers before, during and after takeoff from the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport.

Campbell adds pilots are also encouraged to communicate directly with each other using the same radio frequency. He says small-engine planes and AirCare helicopter pilots can communicate easily with those radios.

He says he's unsure if Friday's fatal crash will cause the airport to change any of its pilot communication systems.

"That is ultimately up to the NTSB and the FAA," says Campbell. "But I can tell you that our operating environment is very safe. From our standpoint, the system has worked well over the years and it's very safe."

Campbell says, in his 22 years at the airport, he does not ever remember a fatal accident being as close to the airport as Friday's crash was.

Information from the Associated Press included in this report.