National Guard helicopter takes a flight over the Gulf - - The News for South Mississippi

National Guard helicopter takes a flight over the Gulf

By Jessica Bowman – email

MISSISSIPPI SOUND (WLOX) - "The water is gorgeous," that is what the pilot of the UH 72 helicopter said Sunday as a crew took a flight over the barrier islands.

After take off, the route began. It circled around each barrier island looking for tar patties and discolored water that could be oil sheen.

National Guard Specialist Joseph Byrd said, "The way we determine if it's normal occurring things in the water is usually the oil emulsification is followed by sheen, we call it metallic sheen, because it has a rainbow type appearance. That's how you tell the difference between regular sea debris and oil."

Rainbow colored sheen was not in site. The further East we flew towards Jackson County, the water was two toned in some places, but as National Guard Specialist Joseph Byrd said, that is from natural occurring causes.

"We have a soldier on board calling back spot reports basically what they see where it is and any other information they can gather," said Specialist Byrd.

Luckily, the coast was clear. Skimmers were spotted off Horne Island and a few clean up crews were seen along the way. 

Specialist Byrd said, "Maybe some marine and civilian assets collecting tar balls off the coastal islands."

The UH 72, also known as the Lakota, has been in the air with crew members searching for any type of oil since the spill began.

"A big group of soldiers, airmen and coast guard are down there working everyday doing good things. Working hard and trying to protect Mississippi waters," said Specialist Byrd.

Specialist Byrd said no oil was spotted on either flight. He says if there is any oil spotted during the flights, that information is given to the coast guard and coast guard officials take a boat to the site to investigate.

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