The hit television show Top Gear is known for its dramatic antics in pitting man against machine, but usually the crashes and smashes are controlled — or at least predicted. One recent episode of the show’s South Korean version took a turn for the worse, though.
The challenge was a drag race between a Corvette ZR1 and a AH-1 Cobra helicopter, being filmed for an episode of the fourth season of Top Gear Korea. It was a routine race, akin to the show’s often exaggerated antics, that nearly ended in tragedy when the Cobra helicopter smashed into the Arizona desert just beyond the finish line.
Footage published to YouTube on Sunday shows the Corvette narrowly beating the ex-military chopper in a sprint at the Coolidge Municipal Airport, 50 miles southeast of Phoenix. Everything appears to be in order until the aircraft banks too sharply to the right and crashes to the ground. Presenter Kim Jin Pyo, behind the wheel of the Corvette ZR1, revels in his victory against the chopper before realizing the disaster transpiring just feet away and runs off to help.
Amazing as it might appear from the above clip, the pilot apparently escaped unscathed. The copter, though, reportedly worth more than $11 million, crumbles into the dirt. “This was an accident that was caught on camera during filming for Top Gear Korea,” reads the video’s description. “Thankfully no one was seriously injured.” The pilot and mechanic both sustained minor injuries. According to the National Transportation Safety Board report, the crash may have been caused by a mechanical failure with the helicopter. “[The pilot] was attempting to neutralize the controls in preparation for a normal approach for landing when he realized the controls were ‘locked and unmovable in any direction,’” but they are continuing to investigate the cause.
The popular BBC show first broadcast in 1977 but was relaunched with a more edgy feel in 2002. The relaunched British version of Top Gear, fronted by British personality Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear boasts an audience of 350 million viewers per week across 170 countries, reports CBS. The show has been spun off into four other local versions, including the U.S. and Russia. The South Korean version started airing in 2011.