The AIR-ONE Emergency Response Coalition steps up training in the wake of two medical helicopter crashes. 13 News flew along as crews were put to the test.
AIR-ONE which used to be known as the Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition can be called to action for anything from searching for a suspect to surveying flood damage. That's why pilots train for any kind of weather even types that can have them flying blind..
This is what AIR-ONE helicopter pilots should see as they fly, a clear windows. But this week's training looked more like this, one covered with contact paper. The reason many at AIR-ONE suspect caused of the REACT helicopter crash and the medical helicopter crash in Iowa was inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions. Basically it means the pilot went from seeing out the window to seeing nothing possibly from a sudden freeze or fog.
"Its like driving down the highway at 60 miles an hour and have the windows frosted over instantly," says David Kennedy. AIR-ONE senior pilot in command
Kennedy says in that situation you immediately have to rely only on your instruments. There are simulators to practice this in. But Kennedy had a better idea. Cover one side of the helicopter in contact paper, so pilots can't see out the window and send them up with a safety co-pilot.
"We have a theoretical idea on what to do if we fly inadvertently into the clouds and you can't see, but to be actually to be able to put yourself in that position and see how you are going to react and get over that initial panic factor. The first time I did it I was very uncomfortable, I'm not going to lie. My brain was telling me I was going one way when I was going another way," says Sgt. Steve Roussell, LAPD Air Support Pilot.
Sgt. Roussell is a pilot with the Los Angeles Police Department. He came to Rockford for different training but wanted to join in this instrument instruction. He says he's bringing it back to his LA crew.
"That kind of experience is what's going to get you through a life-threatening, and it really is a life-threatening situation if you get into that environment," says Sgt. Roussell.
There were a total of nine pilots involved in this training that included one from McHenry's Flight for Life, Illinois Department of Transportation and REACT.
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