The helicopter was reportedly responding to a medical emergency in Hancock County shortly before 11 a.m. when pilots encountered snow and activated the de-icer, after which they detected smoke, according to Church Hill Fire Chief David Wood. No one was injured in the incident.
Wood told the Times News he was informed by the pilot that their protocol is to land anytime they see or smell smoke.
At 10:49 a.m., the helicopter landed in a field adjacent to Highway 11-W across from Pal’s in Church Hill.
“We checked it and didn’t see anything, but he (the pilot) thought it might be something to do with the de-icing on it,” Wood said. “When they were flying, they got into a little snow. He said that intake above the motor on the top is where that de-icer is located. I didn’t see anything leaking.”
Wood said the flight crew shut off the motor and opened the doors after landing. A mechanic was supposed to be en route Thursday afternoon to determine if the helicopter could be flown back out or would have to be towed.
Wood added, “Good thing no one was hurt, and they followed protocol and set that thing down and got out of it.”
The helicopter is owned and maintained by PHI Air Medical.
On Thursday afternoon, the company issued the following statement to the Times News: “This morning, while responding to an emergency call, our crew made a safe, uneventful precautionary landing. This was out of an abundance of caution and in accordance with our established aviation procedures. All personnel are safe and there is no damage to the helicopter. Our maintenance experts are on scene thoroughly inspecting the aircraft to ensure its return to service.”