OROVILLE, Calif. - Enloe Medical Center's FlightCare helicopter made an unscheduled landing at Oroville Municipal Airport following a collision with a flock of geese around 2 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 21.
The impact occurred a few miles north of Gridley while the EC130 T2 EcoStar helicopter was on its way back to Chico from Sacramento.
The aircraft suffered a broken windshield. It was capable of returning to the helipad on the roof of Enloe Medical Center, however, the pilot followed aircraft safety precautions and detoured to the nearest safe landing area, six miles away in Oroville.
“Bird strikes with an aircraft are not uncommon in this area,” said Marty Marshall, Enloe’s director of Emergency Services. “The valley from Sacramento to Chico is one of the busiest migration areas for birds in the country and our helicopter travels at 135 mph. When you add 30-40 pound birds traveling at 35-40 mph, a broken helicopter windshield is often the result.”
No patients were on board the aircraft, and there were no injuries to the pilot, or crew members Matthew Sheller and Troy Keenan.
The EC130 T2 EcoStar helicopter is temporarily out of service until its windshield is replaced.
The helicopter will be repaired and active again by Friday, Marshall said. During this period, Enloe’s second helicopter is operating to ensure FlightCare’s ability to provide emergency air care.
“We are thankful for our donors who contributed to our EC130 T2 EcoStar helicopter acquisition in 2015,” said Mike Wiltermood, Enloe Medical Center’s president and CEO. “Their generosity and ongoing commitment to Enloe Medical Center and our FlightCare program has put us in a unique position where we are able to operate at full-capacity when our helicopter needs urgent repairs.”