HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — A helicopter for KTLA 5 made an emergency landing in Hollywood Monday evening after smoke began pouring from the rear of the engine.
Both SKY2 and the KTLA helicopter were covering a news story in Hollywood about a reported gunman when SKY2 pilot Dan Catalano noticed that the other chopper was spewing smoke from the engine.
“Channel 5 looked like they were having a problem. I turned and looked and saw smoke coming out of the engine of the SKY5 helicopter. I notified the pilot,” Catalano said.
KTLA pilot Tim Lynn declared an emergency on the radio. In audio provided exclusively to CBS2/KCAL9 by KTLA, Lynn can be heard saying, “I’m just putting it down for an emergency landing, just off Highland. I’ve got smoke coming out of the engine. Don’t talk to me right now.”
“A lot of real white and blue smoke right behind me. There was just a lot of smoke. And then, as I started slowing down to make my turn before the final end to here, it filled the cockpit with smoke and I knew I had a real issue coming on,” Lynn said.
Lynn said when Catalano told him to land, he knew that was his best, and only, option.
“Dan Catalano taught me how to fly helicopters so when he tells me to do something I do it right away,” Lynn said.
Minutes later, Lynn made a quick emergency landing in an empty parking lot on Hollywood Boulevard and Franklin Avenue.
The helicopter landed safely and Lynn immediately shut down the engine.
Lynn and KTLA photographer Jeff Laabs quickly exited, uninjured, from the aircraft.
“You never know, you never know when your time is going to come. And, thankfully, today was not mine. But, thank you to Tim, the Lord, and just everyone for looking out. I’m glad we made it down safely,” Laabs said.
When asked if he was scared during the landing, Lynn said he was too busy concentrating on the task at hand to feel any sense of fear.
“It makes you feel a little uncomfortable, maybe a little vulnerable, because you can’t help those guys. You can only really watch and hope for the best,” SKY2 reporter Stu Mundel said.
The Los Angeles Fire Department and L.A. Police Department arrived soon after to inspect the helicopter. They determined there was no longer any fire or danger and cleared the scene.
Fire officials said a crack in the engine caused an oil leak, which led to the emergency.
“I’m very grateful that we’re okay. Any landing in a helicopter that you can walk away from is a good landing,” Lynn said.
The aircraft remained in the parking lot overnight with security. On Tuesday, the helicopter was scheduled to be transported to an aircraft hanger for repairs.