Hospital Wing pilots known as best in business - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Hospital Wing pilots known as best in business

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

As a cause into Tuesday's predawn fatal crash of a Hospital Wing helicopter that killed the pilot and two members of the Le Bonheur Pedi-Flite crew in Fayette County continues to be investigated, the pilots who fly for Le Bonheur Children's Hospital are known to be the best in the business.

According to a civilian helicopter pilot Dennis Nolan it would be shocking if the cause is anything but mechanical.

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"If you're flying a helicopter and you have a main rotor problem, or a rotor problem, or a transmission problem, there are certain circumstances that if they happen to you it's beyond your control to land the airplane without incident," Nolan said.

"There are some circumstances that when you're flying that, like I said are absolutely out of control of the pilot," Nolan added. "You're just pretty much along for the ride. I don't know exactly what happened in this set of circumstances but these air wings around Memphis have some of the best pilots there are in the country, so I'm assuming something mechanical went wrong with the bird."

It was obvious from the faces of the people filing into the Hospital Wing's headquarters near the medical center that the prospects that anyone survived the crash were not good.

One after another they came - pilots, medical personnel, loved ones, members of the clergy, law enforcement.

Then the words no one wanted to think about came. No survivors. All three crew members lost.

It was not the first time they have gathered here to mourn their own. It was May of 2010 when word of a Hospital Wing helicopter out of Brownsville, Tenn., had gone down in a field. The three-member crew had transferred a patient from Parsons, Tenn., to the Jackson-Madison County Hospital and was en route back to their base when they crashed.

A nearby factory worker reported seeing a large burst of lightning, followed by an orange glow in the area of the crash. He said the crew was communicating with its base when radio contact was lost. When they found the helicopter it was burned out and all three crew members were lost.

That was the first company accident since the Hospital Wing began operating in 1986.

The Church Health Center Wellness Center is located right next door to the Hospital Wing's base of operation. They see these helicopters take off and land every single day. Eddie Poindexter and others are all shocked and saddened by what happened Tuesday morning.

"I see them, I'm here at 5:30 every morning," Poindexter said. "I see them take off and land a lot. It's really sad to hear that one of them went down. Never think that would happened but it's really a touching story."

The Hospital Wing flies around 400 flights every year. The crews and their families all know the risk they take every day to help save lives.

And they will continue on.

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