PHOTOS: Skillful escape with some luck, says JDF of helicopter crash
A frontal view of the the Bell 206 Platform helicopter that crash landed in Dunbeholden, Portmore, St Catherine on Monday morning.
Civil Military Co-operation and Media Affairs Officer at the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Major Basil Jarrett, is thanking the proverbial lucky star that a trainee pilot from the army managed to find an open field in Portmore, St Catherine to crash land a helicopter that developed problems during a training mission on Monday morning, and was able to scramble from the wreckage.
In the process, except for injury to the pilot who was on a solo flight as part of his training requirements, only the Bell 206 Platform helicopter was essentially lost.
The crash occurred in the Dumbeholden community very close to a large gated housing development.
The chopper reportedly developed issues at approximately 10:40 a.m., and Jarrett said initial indications are that the young pilot followed the textbook emergency landing procedures in finding an open field to crash land, then quickly scrambling out of the aircraft to escape the possibility of it going up in flames.
Military personnel at the scene of the helicopter crash in Dunbeholden, Portmore, St Catherine. (Photo: Marlon Reid)
Jarrett said the 11-year-old aircraft was primarily used for training purposes. Fortunately for the trainee, he was able to walk away from the wreckage, and was rushed to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) by a JDF team that was quickly dispatched to the location.
Throughout the course of the day, JDF personnel, including a helicopter team, were active at the crash site, where they cordoned off a large section of the land surrounding the aircraft in an effort to protect the integrity of investigations that have been launched.
They were supported by personnel from the St Catherine South Police Division, headed by divisional commander, Senior Superintendent Clive Blair, and Deputy Superintendent Neville Knight.
Speaking to the media at the location in mid-afternoon, Jarrett said, "Our priority now is to secure the landing site to ensure that the integrity of the area is not compromised, so that we can carry out our investigations."
Major Basil Jarrett addressing members of the media near the crash site. (Photo: Marlon Reid)
He said the student pilot was on one of his regular training flights, which is routine for trainees at the military flight facility, Caribbean Military Aviation School.
Jarrett said there were reports that the dispatched team got some assistance from residents in the area who had witnessed the helicopter going down.
He said, "any indication as to what may have caused the helicopter to come down this morning, would depend heavily on what we find surrounding the area, so we have been very cautious in ensuring that we keep the area (sterile).
Back-up military personnel approaching the helicopter crash site. (Photo: Marlon Reid)
"We would also like to ask the residents, if they see anything unusual that may look like it had fallen off an aircraft, not to touch it, not to meddle with it, but give us a call at the JDF and let us know, because every single piece of this aircraft is an important part of the investigation."
He said the JDF, in partnership with the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), will be leading the investigations, which will also involve other relevant agencies and organisations.
Of the crashed helicopter, Jarrett said "it is relatively young when aircraft age is considered”.
He explained that The JDF runs the Caribbean Military Aviation School, “and at some point the pilots have to start to do their solo missions to progress in their training".