LEWISBURG, WV (WOAY) – HealthNet Aeromedical Services’ Base 9 received a new helicopter.
The state-of-the-art aircraft has increased weight capacity, rear patient loading and uses advanced flight instruments.
Typically, a rainy day in Lewisburg means a helicopter pilot at the Greenbrier Valley Airport wouldn’t be taking off. However, with the new EC-135, a twin-engine helicopter, they can cruise in inclement weather with ease.
“This is an EC-135. Before, we had an EC-130, which is a single-engine aircraft,” said flight paramedic Micah Kuhn. “This one is actually twin-engine, we have instrument capability on it.”
The twin-engine helicopter lets pilots fly in inclement weather that typically would ground them. The ideal way to fly in this kind of weather is to go through and above the clouds.
They follow what’s called IFR, which is Instrument Flight Rules. Because of the low visibility in this weather, the FAA has stricter rules about what aircraft can fly through and above clouds.
“On a day like today, we wouldn’t be able to take the flight in our previous aircraft because the FFA rules say you can’t take a single-engine aircraft and fly IFR by instruments, which is where we would fly through the clouds. On this aircraft, which is a twin-engine, our pilot can fly through and above the clouds to our destination.”
Cary Howard is a pilot who transferred to Lewisburg after working in Beckley, and has training in IFR. He says this new helicopter will see them taking off in many instances that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.
“West Virginia’s definitely got a lot of weather the majority of the year where we wouldn’t be able to fly out of this valley with VFR,” Howard said. “And going through the clouds just for a little to get over to Roanoke or Charleston is definitely going to be a nice asset down here.”