Helicopter that crashed on Lake Cumberland was recovered 20 years later

(LEX 18) — For two decades, the depths of Lake Cumberland have held a mystery. Sitting somewhere at the bottom of the lake, a helicopter crashed in 2002 with no fatalities.

After years of searching by multiple parties, the helicopter was found and brought ashore this week.

“It was a crazy idea [I had] as a child, it became a feasible idea 5 years ago.”

Alex Ashley was 10 when the helicopter crashed during a Poker Run in 2002. He organized the effort to find and recover the helicopter, which was being used to film the event from above.

To find it, Helm turned to his now friend, Landon Helm, who observed the crash.

“I said they were all looking in the wrong place,” Helm told Ashley, referring to other search teams. “That’s where I saw him fall.”

Ashley bought a boat already equipped with specialized sonar equipment. He spent 18 hours scanning the lake bed. After the gear picked up something last week, he brought in the team of Jerry Stephens, Chris Money and Matt McDaniel. They are firefighters in Nicholasville and they helped by scuba diving to find the helicopter.

“It was definitely surreal,” Money said. “I had to touch it several times to know it was real.”

One of them brought something special ashore for Alex.

“They put the pilots helmet on, it was amazing, it was cool,” he said.

Slowly, using air-filled barrels to lift the helicopter, they began bringing it back to earth on Tuesday.

“It’s pretty cool, you know, I was one of the last to see it go down and one of the first to see it go up,” Helm said.

At sunset, the helicopter was out of the water. Ashley said he could place it in one of his businesses.


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