Three STAR Flight EC145s spent several hours in the early morning hours of Wednesday, September 8 responding to distress calls and successfully rescuing 13 people from flood waters, caused by Tropical Storm Hermine, throughout the region around Austin, Texas. The rescue operation was the largest to date for the unit’s EC145s.
“The weather conditions were very adverse with high winds and heavy rains during much of the time the aircraft were deployed,” said Willy Culberson, Director of Operations for STAR Flight. Culberson piloted one of the three EC145s, which rescued an emergency crew stranded in a zodiac boat that had been attempting to make their own rescues. “The precision of the controls of the EC145 was incredible and allowed us to perform a stationary hover over a very small area and lower a rescuer on our hoist into the boat to pick up the occupants and bring them back into the helicopter.”
STAR Flight has been flying the EC145s since 2006. They are certified for single pilot IFR operation and in addition to the hoist are equipped with Night Vision Goggles (NVG). According to Culberson the NVGs were used by both the helicopter pilots and the hoist crew.
“The NVGs were a great asset enhancing the crew’s ability to perform the rescues at night in adverse weather conditions,” continued Culberson. “The increased load capacity, fuel capacity, and large cabin size of the EC145 also contributed to the success of our operation. We were able to get to the scene quickly and once there we could pick up multiple people at a time, accommodate them in the cabin of the helicopter, and continue to respond to additional calls for help.”