The helicopter crashed around lunchtime yesterday in Denton (Picture: Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service/SWNS)

A helicopter crashed and overturned on a tennis court in a small village in Oxfordshire leaving the four people on board lucky to escape with their lives.

The pilot managed to avoid homes and bring the chopper down on the grass court in the back garden of a home in Denton.

Parts broke off as it crashed and can be seen in dramatic pictures spread over an area of 100 yards.

Fortunately the helicopter did not catch fire, sparing the pilot and three passengers from being burned. They managed to clamber out and it is believed none were badly hurt.

Aviation experts were today piecing together the final seconds of the flight.

Inspectors from the Air Accident Investigation Branch were at the scene looking for clues.

It was not yet clear where the chopper had been flying to or from and whether the machine was privately owned or belonged to a flying club. There are several grass airstrips in the area where it came down as well as Oxford Airport itself.

The four people on board managed to escape the helicopter (Picture: Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service/SWNS)

No details of the passengers’ identities have yet been released by police.

A neighbour, who asked not be named, said: ‘My wife and I came home after the crash had happened. We hadn’t known what had happened, but we saw the emergency services arriving.

‘We first saw the police arrive and then an ambulance, then shortly after that a fire engine, followed by two more fire engines and our little lane was eventually blocked.

‘The only reason I found out it was a helicopter crash was when one of the firefighters told my wife, after she asked if everything was okay. They said a helicopter had landed badly, but nobody was hurt.’

The villager said he did not understand why the helicopter had come so close to the homes, considering the amount of surrounding farmland.

The 52-year-old added: ‘You do get helicopters and planes around here quite a lot – I’ve seen helicopters, biplanes and I’ve even seen a Lancaster Bomber go past.

They are not believed to have been badly hurt (Picture: Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service/SWNS)

‘We didn’t hear anything before the emergency services arrived and we haven’t seen a helicopter land in these fields before, but we do see them in the distance – most likely just people learning how to fly.’

A spokesman for Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said: ‘On arrival crews were faced with a helicopter on its side in the rear garden of a domestic property.

‘Its four passengers had managed to exit the aircraft and were in the care of South Central Ambulance Service paramedics.

‘The quick-thinking of the pilot to isolate the aircraft’s fuel lines and battery supplies ensured this incident didn’t escalate further.

‘Fire crews continued to make the scene safe so that further investigation of could be carried out.’

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police: ‘We attended this incident yesterday, having been called at 1.08pm following reports of a helicopter crash in Denton, Oxfordshire. The ambulance service was also in attendance.

‘Officers established that no crime had been committed. Thames Valley Police has liaised with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch who will now be taking on the investigation.’

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