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"Dangerous Duty: Landing Helicopters on Hospital Roofs"

by John M. White |

On May 29th, 2008 an emergency medical evacuation helicopter practicing takeoffs and landings on the roof of Spectrum Butterworth hospital in Grand Rapids, MI crashed and burned. On board were the pilot and an FAA Safety Inspector, both of whom escaped and received immediate medical attention. The accident took place at about 11:00am in the morning when the helicopter landed, then lifted off and climbed to approximately 100 feet where it looked like the rear rotor clipped an antenna and then plummeted to the helipad, rolled over on its side and then caught fire. Smoke could be seen throughout the city. The Aero Med helicopter was being flown by Ray Sampson, a Vietnam veteran, who was taking a 6-month check ride with the FAA at the time of the accident. There were no other passengers aboard the helicopter at the time of the accident. The burning helicopter was between the pilot survivors and the entrance to the hospital, so they worked their way to the base of the helipad and climbed down onto some ventilation shafts to shield themselves from the flames. Heli_crash_2 This was the first Aero Med accident in 21 years of operations. Just goes to prove that aviation is still a dangerous business, particularly flying medical evacuation helicopters. Picture of the result is on the left. Until next time keep your wings straight and level and your rotors clear of obstructions Hersch! JetAviator7

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