NORTH BOSTON, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Mercy Flight helicopter had to make a quick landing in the southtowns Sunday night after a door came off the helicopter mid-flight, flew up and hit the blades, and then dropped to the ground.
“We’re all thankful. We’re thankful no one got hurt,” said Mercy Flight founder and president Doug Baker.
The incident happened so fast, Baker says his pilot didn’t even have time to get scared.
“We’ve never had (anything like this) happen going on 33 years,” Baker said.
A pilot, nurse and paramedic were heading back to the Mercy Flight hangar in Olean after transporting a patient to Women and Children’s Hospital. While flying over the southtowns, they noticed something wrong with the door.
“The nurse was the first to notice the door was starting to flap. She said something to the pilot and the paramedic. The paramedic tried to hold it while the pilot decreased the speed at the same time,” Baker said.
But the door flew off and hit the main rotor, damaging two of the blades. The door fell to the ground and landed in a Town of Boston creek bed that runs through a residential neighborhood. No one was hurt and no property was damaged.
After the door fell off, the helicopter landed safely near the baseball field at North Boston Park.
“It could have been a whole lot of things. But thank God it wasn’t. And pilots continuously train for this sort of thing,” Baker said.
The training paid off. As for a reason it happened in the first place, it remains a mystery. The helicopter manufacture told Baker that they’ve never seen something like it after manufacturing tens of thousands of this particular aircraft.
The FAA inspected the aircraft Monday morning.
Besides the door, two of the blades need to be repaired or replaced, which is very expensive.
Mechanics inspected all the other Mercy Flight helicopters.