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updated: 9/15/2012 9:23 PM

Pilot dies in fiery N.J. helicopter crash

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  • Wreckage burns Saturday after a small helicopter crashed in a cornfield, killing the pilot in West Windsor, N.J.

      Wreckage burns Saturday after a small helicopter crashed in a cornfield, killing the pilot in West Windsor, N.J.
    Associated Press

Associated Press

WEST WINDSOR, N.J. -- The pilot of a small helicopter was killed when it crashed Saturday in a central New Jersey cornfield, authorities said.

The pilot, whose name was not released, apparently was the only person aboard the Aerospatiale AS355 twin-engine helicopter, which went down shortly after noon EDT in West Windsor. It burst into flames upon impact, but authorities said no one on the ground was injured.

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It was not immediately clear what caused the accident, but township police Lt. Robert Garofalo said several people reported that a flock of birds appeared to make contact with the helicopter shortly before it crashed. He said authorities still were investigating those reports Saturday evening.

"Eyewitnesses said they saw pieces of (the helicopter) coming apart, including the main rotor of the helicopter itself," Garofalo said during a news conference held near the crash scene.

Several witnesses also reported hearing grinding noises and possible explosions shortly before the helicopter went down in the field near Route 1 and Quakerbridge Road in the Mercer County community.

Authorities said the pilot did not report any trouble or make any emergency transmissions.

It was not immediately clear where the helicopter was headed or where it had departed from.

Besides West Windsor police, the Federal Aviation Administration and New Jersey state police were also investigating the accident.

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