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Entries in helicopter (8)

Tuesday
Oct042011

Helicopter Crashes in New York's East River

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- One person has died after a helicopter spun out of control over New York City's East River and plunged into the water and quickly sank.

Four people were immediately pulled ashore while a search continued for the fifth passenger. Rescue personnel immediately began performing heart compressions on one of the individuals initially pulled from the water and who appeared to be unconscious.

The final passenger was recovered more than two hours after the crash at 5 p.m. and pronounced dead.

Two women were taken to Bellevue Hospital and one man was taken to New York University Hospital and was listed in serious condition.

Officials said the passengers were from Britain.

The Bell 206 helicopter took off from a heliport at 34th Street. Joy Garnett told WABC-TV that she saw the chopper lift off and almost immediately begin to spin around several times and then plunge into the river.

"He took off and spun," one official said. The pilot tried to turn it about and land, but he missed by 40 feet, officials said. The chopper landed in 50 feet of water and sank within minutes.

"Whoever was on hand, people that work here, were throwing things in to them, but the (helicopter) was upside down, its pontoons in the air," Garnett said. "We could only see two figures clutching onto the pontoons and it took about five minutes for it to sink."

Garnett said the onlookers on the dock called 911.

The pilot was identified as Paul Dudley, ABC News has learned. Dudley made a spectacular emergency landing in a Brooklyn park in 2006 when a Cessna 172 he was piloting had engine trouble. In that landing, no one was injured.

Dudley, who was rescued from the East River, is the manager at the Linden, N.J., airport. He flew his chopper to the helipad at East 34th Street to pick up his four passengers, officials said.

The chopper went down about 3:20 p.m. and within 10 minutes rescue divers were in the murky water searching for survivors, officials said.

Ten boats from the New York police and fire departments as well as the Coast Guard and a helicopter were part of the search and rescue scuba teams in the water. Some ferry service on the East River was suspended during the search.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were on the way to investigate the crash.

Helicopters that fly under 1,000 feet are not in contact air traffic controllers and don't file a flight plan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep272011

Neighbors Nix Man's Plan to Fly Helicopter over Home

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BURLINGTON, Conn.) -- When Paul Blanchette, 56, moved into his new home in Burlington, Conn., last August, he thought he was moving into a friendly neighborhood. But instead of receiving warm cookies and welcoming hellos, Blanchette was met by a flurry of protests intent on disallowing his favorite hobby -- flying his beloved chopper.

Blanchette's hobby is not illegal -- he is within his rights to fly his chopper over his house. A state regulation says only that he can't take off from residential land more than 36 times a year, the equivalent of 18 roundtrips.

But a group of his neighbors, calling itself the Burlington Residential Airspace Safety Organization, wants to outlaw Blanchette's hobby and plans to file an ordinance to restrict aviation activity in residential areas at a board meeting Tuesday night.

Paul Stadler, one of Blanchette's neighbors and a pilot himself, said that safety is the crux of the issue.

"The town zoning board doesn't have any aviation ordinances. We don't want a helicopter creating risk," Stadler said.

All the protest has taken Blanchette by surprise. In his former Taine Mountain neighborhood in nearby Bristol, he flew his helicopter regularly and said his neighbors never complained.

"Taine Mountain is a nice neighborhood, and I assumed it would be the same kind of people here -- kind, considerate, neighborly," Blanchette told ABCNews.com. "I'm hurt, because no one ever approached me. No one." Blanchette said he first heard about his neighbors' objections from a letter Stadler had been stuffing into mailboxes. The letter, obtained by ABC News, read, "We will continually listen to the noise and be concerned about possible accidents, forest fires, possible loss of life and pollution of water tables."

Blanchette has had a commercial license to fly his chopper since 2004, and said he's used his whirlybird only for recreation and charitable purposes -- not to make money -- and keeps the helicopter parked at his registered helipad located at the Ultimate Companies in Bristol, where he works. He said he would never fly it over anyone's home.

Stadler, along with 180 other neighbors, said he just wants to get the town to evaluate any potential danger. Although Blanchette owns 4.5 acres, Stadler said the neighborhood is surrounded by a heavily wooded area that could easily catch fire in the event of an accident.

But Jeffrey Bond, spokesman for the Burlington Fire Department, said the risk of an accident is small.

"History has shown benefits of an aircraft, and if you look at examples, aircraft incidents are small and rarely occur with a helicopter," said Bond.

Blanchette said that if the ordinance is passed, he would of course comply with it. He just wants one of his neighbors to talk to him about it.

Blanchette said he and Stadler had exchanged emails in which each expressed his concern, with Stadler worrying mainly about the risk.

None of the neighbors ever took Blanchette up on his offer to meet with him -- or to take a ride on his helicopter.

"I do not feel the need to personally confront someone about activity if that activity endangers the neighborhood," said Stadler.

Select Woman Cathy Bergstrom, equivalent to the town's mayor, stepped in to work out a solution -- Blanchette said she was the first person to ever ask his opinion about the fracas. After an investigation, Bergstrom reiterated that Blanchette was within his legal rights to fly his aircraft over his new house, and that most of Stadler's worries over Blanchette's intentions were unfounded. She even consulted with a real estate company, which confirmed that a helicopter nearby would not affect property values -- one of Stadler's objections.

Bergstrom also learned there were two private planes in the town, and that no enforcement action had ever been taken against them.

She arranged for Stadler and his compatriots to attend Tuesday's meeting where they could address their grievances before the board decided whether to file an ordinance against Blanchette and his eggbeater.

Bergstrom only wished that Blanchette had had the opportunity to speak with his neighbors before it came to this.

But not all the neighbors oppose Blanchette. "What happened to innocent until proven guilty?" Philip Delldonna, Blanchette's next-door neighbor, asked. "He hasn't even landed the helicopter yet, and people are only hearing one side of it. … It's not right."

Deldonna was at home when Blanchette flew over his house for a test run. He said that by the time he figured out what the sound was, it was over.

"My house wasn't shaking, no glasses were falling off," he recalled. He is going to Tuesday night's meeting to support his neighbor.

And Blanchette certainly appreciates the neighborly support, which he said he's sorely missed.

"Never got the chance to get comfortable enough to do what neighbors do, like ask for a cup of sugar," Blanchette said. "I haven't even had the pleasure to meet anyone. That's what's so disheartening."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May242011

Pakistan Returns Secret US Helicopter Wreckage

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The wreckage of the secret stealth helicopter that was abandoned by U.S. Navy SEALs during the mission to kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan is back in U.S. government hands, a Pentagon official said Tuesday.

The Pakistani government, which has held on to the remains of what experts believed to be a highly modified Black Hawk helicopter since the May 2 raid, returned "what's left of the whole thing" including a large tail section to U.S. officials over the weekend, said Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman. The helicopter is being held in an undisclosed location.

The helicopter made a hard landing after it clipped a wall during the mission to kill bin Laden and was abandoned by the SEALs -- but not before the special operations team attempted to destroy it with explosives. In the days after the raid, the tail section and other pieces of debris -- including a mysterious cloth-like covering that the local children found entertaining to play with -- were photographed being hauled away from the crash site by tractor.

Aviation experts said the unusual configuration of the rear rotor, the curious hub-cap like housing around it and the general shape of the bird are all clues the helicopter was highly modified to not only be quiet, but to have as small a radar signature as possible.

In the days after the raid, U.S. officials asked for the helicopters return, but Pakistani officials said they were interested in studying it and suggested the Chinese were interested as well. One Pakistani official told ABC News earlier this month, "We might let them [the Chinese] take a look."

A U.S. official said then he did not know if the Pakistanis had offered a peek to the Chinese, but said he would be "shocked" if the Chinese hadn't already been given access to the damaged aircraft. Lapan did not say whether or not there is evidence the Chinese had been allowed to see the pieces of the helicopter before it was returned to the U.S.

The Chinese and Pakistani governments are known to have a close relationship. Last month Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif concluded a trip to Beijing, afterwards telling Pakistan's local press that China was Pakistan's "best friend."

The Department of Defense has not officially commented on the nature of the aircraft and a senior Pentagon official told ABC News in the days after the raid the Department would "absolutely not" discuss it.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May052011

Experts: Secret Helicopters Revealed in Osama Bin Laden Raid

A Blackhawk UH-60 in flight. U.S. Army(WASHINGTON) -- Before an elite team of U.S. Navy SEALs executed a daring raid that took down Osama bin Laden, the commandos were able to silently sneak up on their elusive target thanks to what aviation analysts said were top secret, never-before-seen stealth-modified helicopters.

In the course of the operation that cost the al Qaeda leader his life, one of the two Black Hawk helicopters that carried the SEALs into bin Laden's Pakistani compound grazed one of the compound's walls and was forced to make a hard landing.  With the chopper inoperable, at the end of the mission the SEALs destroyed it with explosives.

But photos of what survived the explosion -- the tail section of the craft with curious modifications -- has sent military analysts buzzing about a stealth helicopter program that was only rumored to exist.  From a modified tail boom to a noise-reducing covering on the rear rotors and a special high-tech material similar to that used in stealth fighters, former Department of Defense official and vice president of the Lexington Institute Dan Goure said the bird is like nothing he's ever seen before.

"This is a first," he said.  "You wouldn't know that it was coming right at you.  And that's what's important, because these are coming in fast and low, and if they aren't sounding like they're coming right at you, you might not even react until it's too late...That was clearly part of the success."

In addition to the noise-reducing modifications, a former special operations aviator told The Army Times that the general shape of what was left of the craft -- the harsh angles and flat surfaces more common to stealth jets -- was further evidence it was a modified variant of the Black Hawk.

A senior Pentagon official told ABC News the Defense Department would "absolutely not" comment on anything relating to the destroyed bird.

Neighbors of bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, told ABC News they didn't hear the helicopters the night of the Sunday raid until they were directly overhead.  The rotor covering, along with a special rotor design, suppressed the choppers' noise while inbound, Bill Sweetman, editor-in-chief of Defense Technology International, said.

"Helicopters make a very distinctive percussive rotor sound which is caused by their rotor blades and if you can blend that down, of course that makes a noise that is much less likely to be heard and much more likely to blend into any background noise that there is," Sweetman said.

The U.S. has attempted to use stealth helicopters before.  In the mid-90s, the Army developed several prototypes of the Comanche helicopter, a reconnaissance helicopter that was at the time a revolutionary step in stealth technology.  But in 2004 the Department of Defense scrapped the program and promised to used technology developed for the Comanche on other crafts.

Since then, the government has been working to silence the Army's Black Hawk helicopters but an official program for the stealth choppers was never publicized.  The wreckage, Sweetman said, is the first the public has ever seen of an operational stealth-modified helicopter.

Goure said he believes the stealthy Black Hawks have been in use for years without the public's knowledge.

"We probably have been running hundreds of missions with these helicopters over the last half dozen years, and the fact is, they've all been successful -- or at least the helicopters have all come back," he said.

But now that one went down and photographs emerged of large sections being taken from the crash site under a tarp, former White House counterterrorism advisor and ABC News consultant Richard Clarke said U.S. officials may have reason to worry about where those parts end up.

"There are probably people in the Pentagon tonight who are very concerned that pieces of the helicopter may be, even now, on their way to China, because we know that China is trying to make stealth aircraft," he said.

The Chinese military is known to have a close relationship with the Pakistani military.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb212011

Warship and Helicopters Tracking Yacht Hijacked by Somali Pirates

Image Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A US Navy warship on Monday continued to track a yacht holding four Americans that was seized by pirates between the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, authorities reported.

The Americans, sailing the world on a Christian mission to distribute bibles, were ambushed by pirates in dangerous waters nearly 300 miles off the Somali coast. On board the yacht were Jean and Scot Adam from California and Phyllis MacKay and Bob Riggle from Washington State.

The last time pirates targeted an American vessel -- the Maersk Alabama in 2009 -- the heist ended with all but one of the pirates killed by US Navy sharpshooters.

The challenge for international warships now is keeping the pirates from making it to the Somali shore where they and their hostages can easily disappear.

Back in California, church-goers are praying for a quick return home for the hostages.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman on Saturday said officials were assessing options and "possible responses" to the situation.

It is believed that Somali pirates currently have 29 ships in their possession and are holding 660 crewmembers hostage.

The 58-foot S/V Quest is owned by the Adams, who have been sailing the boat around the world for the past seven years. As they approached the notoriously hostile waters off the Horn of Africa, they cut back using their radios and satellite systems so their location couldn't be tracked by pirates, but they were still found.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct072010

New Rules To Prevent Air Ambulance Crashes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed broad new rules for helicopter operators Thursday, including air ambulances, which, if finalized, would require stricter flight rules and procedures, improved communications and training and additional on-board safety equipment.

 “This is a significant proposal that will improve the safety of many helicopter flights in the United States,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “The FAA’s initiatives have helped the helicopter industry make progress on many safety issues, but it’s time to take steps towards mandating these major safety improvements.”

 Under the proposed rules, operators would use the latest on-board technology and equipment to avoid terrain and obstacles. The proposal also contains provisions which, if finalized, would require operators to use enhanced procedures for flying in challenging weather, at night, and when landing in remote locations. 

“We can prevent accidents by preparing pilots and equipping helicopters for all of the unique flying conditions they encounter,” said FAA administrator Randy Babbitt. “These new rules are designed to protect passengers, patients, medical personnel, and pilots.”

Since August 2004, the FAA has promoted initiatives to reduce risk for helicopter air ambulance operations. While accidents did decline in 2005 and 2006, 2008 proved to be the deadliest year on record with six accidents that claimed 24 lives. Overall, from 1992 through 2009, 135 helicopter air ambulance accidents claimed 126 lives. From 1994 through 2008, there were also 75 commercial helicopter accidents -- excluding air ambulances -- that resulted in 88 fatalities.

The estimated cost of the proposal in present value for the air ambulance industry is $136 million with a total benefit of $160 million over 10 years. The cost for other commercial operators is $89 million with a total benefit of $115 million over 10 years.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct072010

FAA Proposing New Safety Rules for Helicopters

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to propose new rules Thursday that will boost helicopter safety, especially the safety of medical helicopters that transport the injured to hospitals.

EMS helicopters play a vital role in saving lives by flying seriously wounded crash victims to nearby trauma centers.  But this year alone, there have been six accidents which have resulted in the death of 16 people onboard the choppers.  The National Transportation Safety Board has long called for tougher safety regulations, and the FAA plans to enforce just that.

An industry source says it's likely the agency will require new equipment to warn pilots if they are too close to the ground, as well as better pilot training.

Industry insiders say this will be a good first step, but much more will be needed to ensure that trying to save a life doesn't cost one.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep222010

No Injuries After NYPD Chopper Makes Emergency Landing

(NEW YORK) -- A helicopter operated by the New York Police Department made an emergency landing Wednesday in New York's Jamaica Bay. Officials tell ABC News there were no injuries. The cause for the landing was not immediately known.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio. Image Courtesy: ABC News.







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