(Jamaica Observer) A Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) trainee pilot flying a helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing in an open field in St Catherine yesterday morning and, miraculously, survived the frightening ordeal.
Late yesterday evening, the Jamaica Observer learnt that the soldier, whose rank and name were given only as Captain James, was in stable condition at the University Hospital of the West Indies and was referred to surgery service, meaning that doctors had determined that he needed some form of special treatment.
“The good thing is that the pilot was able to walk away from the landing site and we are very encouraged by that,” the JDF’s Civil Military Cooperation and Media Affairs officer Major Basil Jarrett told journalists near the crash site.
Up to press time it was not clear what caused the pilot to land the Bell 206 Platform helicopter behind Phoenix Park Housing Scheme about 10:40 am. Damage to the aircraft, the Observer also learnt, was not extensive.
“Our priority now is to secure the landing site to ensure that the integrity of the site is not compromised, so that we can carry out the investigation,” Major Jarrett said.
He said the investigators will have to depend heavily on whatever they find at the site to determine the cause of the emergency landing.
Jarrett, who also revealed that the helicopter has been in service for 11 years, assured that that should not have been a cause for concern as a chopper that age is not considered old.
That point was supported by an aviation expert who told the Observer that the JDF’s helicopters are maintained to the highest standard as they are periodically overhauled to the point where they are almost new.
Yesterday, as soldiers secured the crash site, with the assistance of the police, Jarrett urged people who live in the nearby communities and who may have seen anything unusual in their yard to resist touching it and contact the JDF at 876-960-8776, as it could help the investigation.