July 2, 2008

Virginia Guard Blackhawk rescues disabled State Police helicopter

From Staff Reports

A Virginia National Guard helicopter from the 2nd Battalion, 24th Aviation Regiment transports a disabled State Police helicopter from the roof of Carilon Roanoke Memorial Hospital June 28. (Photo courtesy of Darrell Rayfield)

ROANOKE, Va. — A Virginia National Guard Blackhawk helicopter came to rescue a disabled Virginia State Police helicopter from the roof of Roanoke Memorial Hospital June 28.

The mission required careful planning and cooperation between the Virginia Guard, Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital and State Police. Using the Virginia Guard helicopter for the mission required approval from Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine.

The helicopter and crew are assigned to the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment.

On Wednesday a transmission problem left the police helicopter on Carilion's rooftop helipad. From there, they had several options to get it down.

"We couldn't get a crane in here because there wasn't enough room around the base of the hospital for the size crane they would need to remove it," said Lt. R.N. Possumato with Virginia State Police.

The National Guard chopper lifted the disabled chopper and carried it to a nearby ground landing pad. Officials estimate it will require about three to four days to repair the helicopter and getting it flying again.

Clearing the disabled helicopter off the roof enabled the hospital to get back to normal operations.

"We certainly do prefer to land on the roof, I mean, that's ideal,” said Paul Davenport of Carilion Patient Transportation. “When the hospital was under construction for about three years, we landed on the ground pad and had a short transport over to the hospital. So it creates a slight delay for the patients to be moved over to the hospital by ambulance. But not something that's significant or could potentially impact their health."

The successful mission was a new experience for the pilots involved.

"What made it unique is it's a unique load. We really didn't have a full understanding of how it would behave when we lifted it off the ground," Chief Warrant Officer Shane Leipertz said.

Click HERE to return to the top of the page ~ Click HERE to return to the news directory