Friday, July 23, 2010

Sheriff's helicopter makes emergency landing at Poly High

As a side note, the helicopter in the article is Sikorsky SH-3H Sea King (S-61B) N950DF - 152702/5 (c/n 61360) which is based at Long Beach Airport (LGB).


A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department helicopter dumped fuel near the Port of Long Beach and made an emergency landing this afternoon at Poly High School.

The Air-5 Sikorsky rescue helicopter was on a maintenance flight check when one of the helicopter's two engines failed at 12:40 p.m., Sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker said. The crew immediately headed back to Long Beach Airport, he said.

"While en route, the pilots detected a sudden loss of a significant amount of engine oil, and prepared for an emergency landing," Parker said. "In order to land safely, it was necessary, under emergency procedures, to offload some fuel to lighten the aircraft over downtown Long Beach from an altitude of about 1,000 feet."

The aircraft released 100 gallons of jet fuel over the Port of Long Beach and downtown before landing on Poly High's baseball field, officials said.

The two pilots and two mechanics aboard the helicopter were uninjured, and no one on the ground was hurt, Long Beach Fire Department spokesman Steve Yamamoto said.

Summer school is in session at Poly High, 1600 Atlantic Ave., but it's in the morning. Students who were using other sports fields there said they didn't see the helicopter arrive.
The landing didn't damage the aircraft or school property, Yamamoto said.


The flight path in which the fuel was released was roughly from the old Long Beach Naval Shipyard on a direct flight path to the high school, Parker said. The path included the naval yard, port loading docks, some residential areas and downtown Long Beach.

Yamamoto said fuel also spilled onto the Golden Shore RV Resort at the western edge of downtown, where one person was struck. Paramedics were called to the scene but determined that the person hadn't been injured, he said.

The Fire Department received several calls from the public complaining of an unknown liquid falling from the sky on them, Parker said. There were no reports of hospitalizations, he said.

According to a hazardous material spill report from the California Emergency Management Agency, two fuel sheens, one 300 feet long and one 100 feet long, were initially reported on the water in Long Beach Harbor near Pier F.

At 1:38 p.m., personnel from a ship sighted a sheen almost 1,000 feet long and 500 feet wide, according to the report. Cleanup of the spill is being handled by National Response Corp. Environmental Services, the report says.

Parker said the helicopter blades are being dismantled so that the main aircraft body can be loaded onto a truck.

(Paul Eakins - Press Telegram)

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