Helo 2 utilized in rescue missions over the weekend

Helo 2 served successful back to back rescue mission on Saturday, Sept. 16.
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 11:51 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Over the weekend, the Alaska State Troopers (AST) utilized aerial units multiple times to support rescue and recovery missions in the interior.

With Alaska’s remote spaces and abundant opportunities for adventure, many take to the wilderness of the last frontier to explore its beauty and take on its challenges. However, those trips sometimes result is disaster requiring rescue.

On Saturday, Sept. 16, the Alaska State Trooper received a report of two boaters in distress. To aid with search and rescue efforts, the troopers called in their interior helicopter unit, Helo 2.

The unit which is based out of Fairbanks International Airport was sent out to the Salcha area shortly after receiving the report at 12:55 p.m.

The boaters who had been traveling on the Tanana River found themselves ill equipped for the conditions requiring emergency services. Helo 2 was able to locate and contact the pair, returning them to their vehicle without further incident. Neither boater was injured or in need of emergency medical services.

Shortly after AST completed their first mission that day, a second call was received, requiring the team to reassess themselves and their equipment. “Whether we get one mission a month or we get three in a day... everything is looked through the spectrum of safety metrics,” said trooper Barry Cebulski. Parts of the safety evaluations include, whether or not “we [have] flown too much, are we rested, do we feel well, can it be done safely?”

After evaluating the unit to be in functional order, Helo 2 was up in the air once more, this time headed towards Nenana.

Around 4 p.m., AST got a call form a pilot who experienced a collision in his aircraft about 20 miles west of Nenana. The aerial unit located and recovered the pilot who sustained minor injuries, returning him to FAI, despite having his plane flip over, during his flight.

“We’ve had a couple of aircraft accidents in the last week and both of these aircraft flipped over and we didn’t have people that had any major injuries,” said Leam McInelly, the lead pilot for Helo 2. “They did a good job getting the aircraft down on the ground without injury, even though the aircraft was damaged.”