According to the Daily Advance of Elizabeth City, NC, helicopter pilot Glen Wenzel of Winston – Salem died in a helicopter crash while he was on a training flight with a student (who survived the crash) and whose identity was not yet released. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that the helicopter crash was caused by a skid of the helicopter that caught on an object and flipped the copter over. The accident happened at the Blackwater security contractor campus. Blackwater has changed its name to “Xe” because of the bad publicity associated with its Blackwater tradename.
According to Blackwater/Xe, Glen Wenzel was a decorated U.S. Army veteran. According to other news reports this helicopter is also known as a "Little Bird" helicopter, although conflicting news reports stated that the copter was either a Hughes 369-F, or an MD -530 helicopter. Wentzel and his student were on a training run at about 1:50 PM when the accident occurred according to the FAA. The contractor’s headquarters is on a rural campus in Northeast North Carolina, in Camden County, near Moyock, about 30 miles from Norfolk, Virginia (VA). Currituck County’s chief deputy, Sandy Casey, was an early responder at the scene and stated: "all I could see from where I was working pieces… the tail looked like it was broken off." The helicopter was owned or leased to an Xe subsidiary known as Presidential Airways. One news report said this helicopter was manufactured in 1984, pursuant to FAA records. Blackwater Worldwide used these Little Bird helicopters in Iraq to protect convoys and sometimes to transport VIP’s. One such helicopter was shot down in Iraq in January 2007 killing four persons. This was the first aircraft crash/death at the Blackwater training campus, according to the company.
It has been reported that Blackwater has required its employees to sign employment contracts that may include clauses purporting to limit their rights to injury lawsuits against the company or other companies. Courts have struggled with the issue of whether such contracts are binding or not. It is unclear whether pilot Wentzel had signed any such agreement before being killed in the crash, or whether there was any contributory fault on Blackwater/Xe, on the equipment, or on the pilot. The FAA sets regulations and requirements for private helicopter pilot licenses, as well as commercial helicopter pilot licenses.
Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), near the Northeast North Carolina (NC) border, practicing primarily in the southeastern U.S. and handles only injury law, including aviation/plane accidents, car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. The firm’s website is: hsinjurylaw.com, the firm edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, as well as the Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard and also hosts a video library covering many FAQ’s on personal injury subjects. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY.