McClellan-Palomar Airport went back into full operational status Thursday afternoon, a day after two men died in a helicopter crash at the northern San Diego County general-aviation facility.
The airport reopened to all air traffic about 3 p.m., according to county officials. Its sole runway had been closed since late Wednesday afternoon, when an Airbus AS350 helicopter went down, killing pilot Bruce Erickson, 65, of Rancho Santa Fe and his 60-year-old passenger, Wayne Lewis of Cardiff-by-the-Sea.
Erickson and Lewis were practicing landings shortly before 4:30 p.m. when the tail of the aircraft hit the ground. The body of the chopper then came down, and the damaged copter spun violently on the pavement numerous times before catching fire, authorities said.
As of Thursday morning, the Carlsbad airport was open again for helicopter operations, but the runway remained closed, according to the county Department of Public Works.
After investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board fully documented the crash scene, hazardous-materials crews removed all debris and chemical residue, according to the county Department of Public Works.
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