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Mojave Desert helicopter crash victims were headed to Riverside show

November 8, 2009 | 10:03 pm

A 1951 military helicopter that crashed and killed all three men aboard it Saturday was headed to an aircraft-and-classic car show honoring U.S. veterans at the Flabob Airport in Riverside, the event's director said.

The twin-rotor Piasecki PV-18 helicopter had been booked to appear as a non-flying display through Classic Rotors, a rare and vintage rotorcraft museum in Ramona, show director Jon Goldenbaum said Sunday.

The museum was closed Sunday night and a message left on it answering machine was not immediately returned.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said the vintage helicopter struck power lines shortly after taking off from Adelanto Airport about 8:30 a.m. Saturday. It crashed and burst into flames in the desert, about a mile into the flight.

Three adult males were burned beyond recognition and would be identified through dental records, according to the San Bernardino County Coroner's Office. Their names had not been released Sunday. FAA records list the owner of the helicopter as Joseph William Pike of Victorville.

The same helicopter had participated in a similar event about two years ago, Goldenbaum said. "It was a fine airplane," he said, adding that he was impressed then by its restoration. He said he did not know who was aboard the aircraft Saturday.

--Kim Christensen