Helicopter Makes Emergency Landing At Gulfport Golf Course - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/16/05

Helicopter Makes Emergency Landing At Gulfport Golf Course

It started out as quiet day out on the golf course.

Then, around ten Saturday morning, engine trouble forced a helicopter pilot to make an emergency landing on a fairway at the Tramark Golf Course in Gulfport.

Thankfully, no one was injured.

But officials say the situation could have been a lot worse

As golfing buddies Todd Donhaiser and Mike Rhodes approached the fifth hole, they noticed the helicopter hovering overhead was in trouble.

"We heard it stall out above us and knew they were coming down," said Rhodes. "You can't really do anything but sit there and see it happen."

Vortex Helicopters is a company that provides training for helicopter pilots.

The owner, who did not want to be interviewed on camera, says one of his instructors was showing a trainee what to do in case the engine stalled.

Officials say moments later that's exactly what happened causing the instructor to take action.

"What I understand is the instructor took over immediately when the engine quit. He took over and guided the helicopter down. He did make the statement that he picked the spot that was the safest. That he did have trees on his left and houses were on his right. A fair way was available and he took the fairway," said Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan.

Witnesses who saw the helicopter go down say they immediately rushed to see if anyone was hurt.. but the Gulfport Fire Chief says that's not necessarily a good idea.

"The helicopter and any aircraft has fuel in it. If it's a military aircraft, we don't know that it has live weapons on it, live bombs, live ammunition. There's always a potential for fire. We don't recommend that you go to the helicopter or you go to the crash site unless you absolutely feel safe and you have to help the people out," Sullivan said.

Fortunately, in this case, everyone inside the craft made it out alive and unharmed and no one on the ground was injured in emergency landing.

Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the accident.

By Danielle Thomas

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