North Santa Rosa

Flight Students Observe Rescue Up Close

Flight Students Observe Rescue Up Close Two flight students taking a familiarization flight as part of the 23rd Annual Fleet Fly-In at Naval Air Station Whiting Field got a little more than they bargained for when the helicopter transitioned to a search and rescue mission, Wednesday, Oct. 24. Coast Guard student aviators Lt. j.g. Ian Campbell and Lt. j.g. Timothy Olah from Training Air Wing FIVE were getting a first-hand look at how an operational helicopter flies and feels as compared to the training helicopters they use at NAS Whiting Field, when AMT3 Brandon Hauhe noticed a small boat spinning out of control. The aircraft’s pilot, Lt. Jeff Daigle maneuvered the helo in for a closer look, and when no operator was visible within the boat, immediately initiated a search pattern to seek the driver. The MH-65 Dolphin helicopter the crew was flying is traditionally used for drug interdiction operations and wasn’t truly equipped for search and rescue missions. However, the limitations didn’t inhibit the team. “We pride ourselves on our ability to roll with the punches and deal with the situation as it presents itself,” Daigle said. “We were happy we were able to improve his situation. It’s appreciated when we get something out of the ordinary every now and then.” The boater was discovered in the water a few hundred yards away. The crew radioed for additional assistance, but they could tell the person was fatigued. After a short discussion between Daigle and Hauhe to determine what assets were available to them, they lowered an inflatable raft down to the swimmer, who reached and pulled himself into the raft without further incident. The incident occurred in Santa Rosa County around 2:40 in the afternoon. Local fire and rescue took one of their boats out and returned the man to shore where he refused medical treatment. One of the Fleet Fly-In’s main purposes is to provide flight students in training a chance to see, feel, touch and fly in fleet aircraft. For Campbell and Olah, who were just looking forward to seeing a little of what Coast Guard pilots do day to day, they got a better view than expected. “It was definitely exciting. I didn’t expect to be part of a search and rescue mission,” Campbell said. “I think I got a lot more out than I expected going in.” Campbell already has served two years aboard a Coast Guard cutter, but still came away impressed with the attitude of the helicopter’s crew. “This wasn’t their mission, but the way they stayed poised and helped any way they could…It was really cool to be a part of.”

Posted by on Oct 26 2012. Filed under Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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