Chopper makes unplanned Chester stop
National Guard says indicator light required immediate landing; crew and helicopter OK
CHESTER — A Virginia National Guard helicopter was forced to make an unscheduled landing late Thursday afternoon after an indicator light on its panel turned on that required an immediate touch-down..
Guard spokesman Cotton Puryear called the landing “precautionary” rather than an
emergency. No one was injured, and the helicopter later lifted off and was flown safely to a Guard facility in Sandston.
The landing occurred around 4:49 p.m. Thursday in a vacant field near the Hampton Inn at Exit 61 off Interstate 95. Virginia State Police Sgt. Keeli Hill said a trooper responded to a call of a helicopter going down, but when the trooper arrived on the scene, he discovered that the copter had just landed as a precaution.
The vacant field was close to, but not directly on, the intersection of state Route 10 and Old Stage Road. It was far enough away to not cause any major problems to the evening rush-hour traffic at that intersection or traffic on the nearby interstate.
Puryear said the landing happened while Guard personnel were in the midst of a regularly scheduled training flight. They were returning to Sandston when an indicator light on the copter’s panel appeared.
Indicator lights on the helicopter’s panel set certain mandated protocols in motion, Puryear explained. When some
light up, the pilot still is cleared to continue on to their final destination. When others appear, the pilot is required to land.
“And in this case, the light came on that meant, ‘No, you need to set down now,’” Puryear said. The copter pilot looked for the best place to land, and the vacant field was chosen.
Puryear commended the flight crew for doing “exactly what they are trained to do.”
A repair team was sent to the scene and fixed the issue. Puryear said he did not have any details about what caused the light to turn on, but he added the copter was able to lift off and fly on to Sandston.
This was the second unexpected landing of an aircraft in central Virginia in slightly more than 24 hours. On Wednesday, a singleengine private plane was forced to land on the baseball field at Highland Springs High School while coming in to Richmond International Airport. The plane clipped a power line on the descent, but no one was injured.