FWC uses valuable aviation asset to rescue parachutist
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Media contact: Katie Purcell 850-459-6585
When Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) pilot David Calianno learned Sunday that there was
a parachutist missing from Quincy, he called fellow pilot John
McDonald to meet him with the FWC Huey helicopter.
"Local law enforcement informed us that strong
winds forced the parachutist to land in a swamp south of the Quincy
Airport," McDonald said. "He had fallen in water and mud up to his
waist and was surrounded by dense foliage and fallen trees."
Helicopters from the Leon County Sheriff's Office
and Air Methods located the victim, but were unable to reach him
due to the terrain. FWC K-9 Officer Ros Welborn and his partner,
Harley, were called to assist, but were unable to move through the
water to the parachutist.
Calianno and McDonald, along with FWC pilot Garret
Fields, were able to navigate the Huey close enough to see the
"We brought the helicopter down between the trees
and hovered near the water," McDonald said.
"Fields was able to reach out to the victim and
pull him onboard the helicopter."
The pilots transported the man back to the Quincy
Airport, where paramedics confirmed he had no serious injuries. One
of the pilots, who is retired from the U.S Coast Guard, found a
common thread with the victim: He is an active USCG member deployed
to Northwest Florida for the Deepwater Horizon response.
The FWC's Huey was originally built for the Vietnam
War. Its large size and durability enable it to function well in
search-and-rescue missions. The Huey is part of FWC's statewide
Aviations Unit, made up of eight helicopters and seven fixed-wing
aircraft. The unit is not only valuable in enforcing boating, fish
and wildlife laws, but it also partners with state, federal and
local law enforcement entities to support public safety.