On Saturday, Sheriff’s Deputies in Osceola County, Florida (of course) saw a helicopter buzz over route U.S. 192 low enough to nearly hit some street lamps. The cops didn’t take kindly to this, figured out where the helicopter was registered, went there and waited for it to land.
Police presumably spotted the helicopter’s tail number or some distinctive markings because News 13 reports that they were able to get to the helicopter’s home base, Orlando HeliTours, before the chopper touched down.
Local news says the pilot Thomas Vorstman, 31, told police “he could not exit the helicopter” when he first touched down, took off, and landed again five minutes later before shutting the vehicle off and engaging with police.
Fox Orlando reports that Vorstman “was arrested on charges of operating an aircraft in a reckless manner and resisting [arrest] without violence.” Deputies booked him into the Osceola County Jail and notified the Federal Aviation Administration, which “issued a statement saying the agency will investigate the matter to determine if any of their regulations were violated” according to WESH.
Orlando HeliTours operates Bell Jet Ranger and Robinson R66 helicopters, the latter of which would appear to be skimming over the road here. The R66 can hold four passengers plus a pilot, or a total of 927 pounds in people, cargo and fuel.
The R66 is rated to an operational ceiling of 14,000 feet, or over 10,000 feet with its maximum-rated weight onboard.
Apparently the excuse for low-flying was a “heavy load,” to which the manager of Orlando HeliTours dismissed as an unreasonable explanation before firing Vorstman.
Hat tip to Joe!