The pilot of a helicopter that crashed during a thunderstorm alongside the busy E18 highway in Porsgrunn late Thursday night was identified Friday as John Christian Solberg of Kløfta in Akershus. He’d taken off from the nearby Kjeller airport and crashed into a powerline running alongside the E18 shortly before 11pm.
The weather was dramatic at the time, with lightning, thunder and heavy rain. The actual cause of the crash was not yet determined, however. Solberg was described as a competent pilot who “did everything by the book,” according to the leader of the Kjeller airport. It was unclear why Solberg went flying when the weather had turned so poor.
Police confirmed that Solberg had rented the helicopter but it wasn’t clear where he was going or why. They’ve opened an investigation into the accident and were calling for information about what may have happened in advance of the crash. Anyone with observations of the helicopter were asked to call the police at 457 96 200.
Motorist Wenche Lanner is likely the only witness to the crash that closed the highway in both directions. She told state broadcaster NRK that she suddenly saw a helicopter in her side vision and then there was “an enormous explosion, with pieces of metal and falling around the car. The helicopter fell right down, then everything went quiet.”