August 12, 2015

Dare's new medical helicopter arrives, will be on display


Dare County’s new medical transport helicopter will be on display Wednesday, Aug. 19, at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in celebration of National Aviation Day.

In addition to the new aircraft, the county’s current BK-117 medical helicopter will also be on display, along with an array of over 10 other planes and helicopters.

Dare MedFlight, the County’s rapid medical transport service, began operating in 1975 to ensure all levels of medical care are accessible for residents and visitors. Hospitals providing trauma and other critical care services are quite a distance away, and a helicopter drastically reduces transport times for patients needing rapid transfer.

The current MedFlight helicopter, a BK117, has been in use since 1990 and has flown over 884,000 miles while transporting more than 5,600 patients. The BK117 is now considered a “legacy aircraft” because its parts for service and repair are no longer being manufactured. The plan is to sell the old helicopter once the new one is in service.

The county’s new medical helicopter, an Airbus H 145, arrived in Dare County last week and is expected to be in service this fall, following final testing and certifications. The new aircraft has advanced safety features, including enclosed tail rotors and a four-axis pilot system. The new helicopter also holds more fuel than the current aircraft, allowing the pilot more options for flight distance and landing zones.

The National Aviation Day Celebration on Aug. 19 will provide an opportunity for residents and visitors to get a close look at both the old and new medical helicopters utilized by Dare County, while enjoying many other planned activities. The event takes place on Orville Wright’s birthday and is sponsored by the National Park Service and the First Flight Society. There will be no entrance fee at the park that day and aircraft will be on display from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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