Bradenton man lands helicopter on birds nesting site in Egmont Key

Bradenton man lands helicopter on birds nesting site in Egmont Key

EGMONT KEY, Fla. (WFLA) — A shocking video caught a Bradenton man landing a helicopter in the middle of a closed shorebird nesting site at Egmont Key State Park.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was alerted of the incident, which happened on May 12, when a helicopter landed on the south tip of Egmont Key.

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A witness told officials they saw a female passenger get out of the chopper and take a few photos, before hopping back on the helicopter and taking off.

The pilot of the chopper, identified by the FWC as 53-year-old Ernesto Cordero, took off from Albert Whitted Airport in Pinellas County, flying along Fort Desoto and Egmont Key, before landing in Punta Gorda, according to a flight log on FlightAware.

The video shows Cordero landing the small helicopter on the beach, causing several protected shorebird species, including black skimmers and sandwich terns, to flee their nests.

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When asked about his reasoning for landing on Egmont Key, Cordero told FWC officials he could smell fuel and believed he had a fuel leak. However, he never declared any emergency with air traffic control, according to the report.

Cordero was cited for landing an aircraft in a state park and entering a closed area, along with threatening federally designated endangered and threatened species.

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