Chop­per makes un­planned Ch­ester stop

Na­tional Guard says in­di­ca­tor light re­quired im­me­di­ate land­ing; crew and he­li­copter OK

The Progress-Index Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Bill Atkin­son As­sis­tant Ed­i­tor

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.

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