HAYWARD, Calif. (KTVU) - The National Transportation Safety Board arrived on Tuesday to investigate a Hayward helicopter crash that killed a teacher and sent his student to the hospital.
Officials still don't know if the teacher, Wayne Prodger, 62, of Sunnyvale, was flying the chopper or whether his student was in control of the aircraft when it crash-landed at the Hayward Executive Airport Monday afternoon. Prodger was the owner of Vertical CFI Helicopters Flight School in Hayward.
The pilot and his student were practicing pattern work in a Robinson R44 when the aircraft crashed for unknown reasons around 2:30 p.m. Monday, said NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson.
Knudson said the two were talking to the control tower before the crash, but a distress call was never made.
Prodger was pronounced dead at the scene.
The student was transported to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, but his condition was not known Tuesday.
Friends said that Prodger was an avid traveler, motorcyclist, and a devoted husband and father to his three grown children.
"He was a great person--very knowledgeable and had a passion for what he did," said David Jaimes, a helicopter mechanic who trained with Prodger earlier this year.
"He loved aviation," said Scott Franges, also a helicopter mechanic who knew the flight instructor. "He loved his motorcycle. You couldn't get through a conversation without hearing about his grandchildren as well. He was a big family man. He was very thorough. He would sit you down and walk you through it and dumb it down as best he could."
The NTSB is expected to submit a preliminary accident report in about two weeks. Investigators are asking any witness to the crash to come forward.