A small helicopter crashed into a tree early Monday morning near Avenue 24 and Road 24 after a malfunction, authorities reported.
The helicopter was hired by Agriland Farming Co. to circulate air and warm crops in a citrus grove to help prevent them from freezing. It came down about 6:30 a.m in an almond orchard and hit a tree.
“He had to come down in an area he didn’t plan to land,” said Jim Maxwell, chief executive officer of Agriland Farming Co. “It’s sort of a controlled crash. He hit the ground harder than he would have liked to.”
The aircraft belongs to S&S Helicopter in Madera. The pilot has been identified as Steve Streeter of Chowchilla.
The pilot is fine, but said he had some back pain, Maxwell said. There were no reports of other injuries or property damage.
“He’s a little stiff, but other than that, he’s OK,” Maxwell said, adding that he was taken to a hospital to be examined. “They did some X-rays to make sure nothing was broken.”
Maxwell said the incident destroyed one almond tree and damaged the aircraft. The helicopter’s tail rotor hit the ground and lost its blades, Maxwell said.