Exclusive: the story behind the Top Gear Korea helicopter crash

27 February, 2013 | by TopGear.com

Keen YouTubers, newspaper readers, magazine buyers, and website users may well have noticed this video from our friends at Top Gear Korea this week – it involves a slight incident with a Cobra AH-1 helicopter and a Corvette ZR-1, the former crashing quite spectacularly while racing the latter…

A frankly incredible 13 million people have now watched the footage in little more than ten days. So we thought it was high time we gave you the full story behind the clip from the people that were actually there. Not only that, our friends at Top Gear Korea have also sent us a never-seen-before version of the final film, which you can watch at the bottom of the page. But first, over to Top Gear Korea’s Executive Producer, Seunghan Seo…

TGUK: What were you actually filming on the day of the crash?

TGKR: This project had two parts: the first was a power test with a Corvette ZR-1, which was shot in the desert near Arizona at a private airport. The second was a challenge that involved the Corvette racing a Cobra AH-1 helicopter around a makeshift circuit on the runway.

TGUK: What was the first sign that the helicopter was in trouble?

TGKR: While we were at the airport, we learned a helicopter U-turning vertically would be very difficult. But the Cobra pilot was very confident about the maneuver, and was successful during pre-film testing. But when we came to shoot it, the helicopter fell during the U-turn.

Afterwards, once we’d rechecked the video inside the helicopter, we found that there was a loud noise just before the crash – a mechanical failure that we think may have caused the incident.

TGUK: Was the pilot OK afterwards?

TGKR: Right after the crash, the Top Gear Korea team ran to the accident site and helped rescue both pilots – we were worried that there might be a risk of explosion so we had to get them out quickly. Thankfully, apart from some minor injuries, they were OK.

TGUK: How did you feel when you saw the crash?

TGKR: I was obviously very concerned. But after I found out they were safe, I was incredibly relieved. Looking back, it’s lucky the helicopter didn’t fall on the tarmac otherwise there might have been a far greater risk of explosion. Luckily our staff were only around 20 metres away from the site, so we could help the pilots right after the crash.

TGUK: What happened directly after the crash?

TGKR: The aviation research bureau investigated directly after the crash, and the airport was closed until the investigation was over. While all that was happening, we finished our shots in the nearby desert.

TGUK: Have you been surprised at the reaction on YouTube?

TGKR Well, Gangnam Style’s already reached 1,300,000,000 views on YouTube, so  I wasn’t that surprised! It was also fun to read the comments and controversy over whether it was real or not. Which it was, 100%.


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