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UPDATE: Valencia man one of victims in helicopter crash

Local resident known for supporting charitable causes

Posted: February 11, 2013 1:34 p.m.
Updated: February 11, 2013 7:12 p.m.

Pilot David Gibbs looks over the wreckage from a 2004 helicopter crash in Palmdale. He and two passengers walked away uninjured in that crash. Courtesy Antelope Valley Press/Evelyn Kristo

David Gene Gibbs was Hollywood’s helicopter pilot to the stars.

But to friends who were mourning him Monday, he was more than the actor and pilot behind “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “The Jackal” with Bruce Willis.

“He was an amazing man,” said friend Glenda Burdett of Canyon Country.

“He was always volunteering his time,” she said. “He took part in charity tournaments.”

Gibbs had plans to marry soon, Burdett said.

But early Sunday morning, the owner of Valencia-based Crossbow Helicopters Inc. was killed along with two others at an Acton-area movie ranch during filming for a new reality show for the Discovery Channel.

Coroner’s spokesman Ed Winter identified the victims Monday as Gibbs, 59, of Valencia, Darren Arthur Rydstrom, 46, of Whittier, and Michael William Donatelli, 45, of Indiana, Pa.

The copter crashed at Polsa Rosa Ranch, located on Soledad Canyon Road between Acton and Agua Dulce.

Gibbs’ Crossbow Helicopters on Arroyo Park Drive provided helicopters and fixed-wing aerial support for the motion picture and television industries.

A man who answered the phone at Crossbow Helicopters on Monday identified himself as a Gibbs family member and said the family was not yet ready to talk.

Gibbs worked on more than half a dozen episodes of the award-winning reality TV series “The Amazing Race” — again as a helicopter pilot.

He was a pilot, actor, aerial coordinator or stuntman on “Virus (1996),” “Star Trek: Insurrection (1998),” “The Replacement Killers (1998)” “Never Look Back (2000)” and “Blow (2001).”

His most recent production was to have been a reality TV series for Discovery Channel.

The show had not been announced or aired by Discovery, channel spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg said.

“A production company was shooting a show for Discovery Channel when this tragic accident occurred,” the station said in a statement. “We are all cooperating fully with authorities. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families.”

The show’s production company, Eyeworks USA, best known for creating NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” also issued a statement expressing sympathies to the victims’ families and saying they were cooperating with authorities.

The cause and other circumstances surrounding the crash were unknown, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.

The Polsa Rosa Ranch, which was used in “Windtalkers” and the remake of “Red Dawn,” was the site of another entertainment industry death in September, when a 48-year-old crew member died of an apparent heart attack while underwater in scuba gear on the set of the upcoming Johnny Depp film “The Lone Ranger.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt


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