I looked over my shoulder and saw her sitting on the floor of the aircraft and she was just devastated. It was heartbreaking.
February 16, 2011 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Mark Kempton s a chopper pilot. On Monday January 10, 2011 while flood waters rose in Grantham, Queensland, Mark and his Emergency Management Queensland helicopter crew from Archerfield winched 28 people to safety over a period of 2 1/2 hours.

Praised by a teary Prime Minister Gillard, he talks about his experience.
posted by gomichild (12 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The courage it takes for a young boy, 13-year-old Jordan Rice, to say to his rescuer, take my brother first.

And before that brave rescuer could return, Jordan and mum Donna, were taken by the flood; but the legend of Jordan’s amazing courage will go on.

That's incredibly hard to read.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:03 PM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

Public service and human decency, always chokes me up too.
posted by Abiezer at 1:06 PM on February 16, 2011

On a lighter note, cow stuck on ice blown to safety by helicopter.
posted by exogenous at 1:07 PM on February 16, 2011

Responses by MPs to Gillard's Motion of Condolence can be found in the most recent Hansard.

Marles, MP for Corio:
During the ecumenical service, I spoke of a story
which had been reported in the Courier Mail and re-
ferred to in the Prime Minister’s contribution on this
motion earlier this week. It was the story of a young
pregnant woman who was swept from her home by the
wall of water in Grantham. As she was swept away she
was able to grab hold of a downpipe while holding
onto her young baby, but from there she lost her grip
and was swept to a nearby railway line where her foot
was caught by a sleeper. And from there she was liter-
ally in a struggle against the force of nature, a struggle
which she could not win. Her baby was torn from her
arms, and it is thought that her baby is the youngest
victim of these terrible floods. She herself would have
been a victim but for the fact that a few minutes later
she was saved by a helicopter pilot whose story also
featured in the Prime Minister’s contribution on this

You can look at the selfless actions of Pauline Mag-
ner, who perished in these floods in Grantham but, it is
thought, in the process was able to put her grandson
Jacob in a position of relative safety within their house
such that Jacob was able to survive the floods and is
alive today. You can look at the courage of Rob and
Jim Wilkin, again from Grantham, who saw this un-
precedented wall of water coming towards them. They
had the opportunity there and then to get to higher
ground themselves but in that moment decided instead
to take the time to warn their neighbours about what
was coming and to get them out so that they could
reach higher ground as well. When the wall of water
came through they then got in their boat and managed
to pluck a number of other people from the torrent. It is
thought that their actions, in the space of just a few
moments, were the difference between life and death
for another 16 people. And, of course, you can look at
the amazing story of Jordan Rice, which has been spo-
ken of by many people in this debate. He asked rescu-
ers to save his younger brother first but, unfortunately,
they were unable to save Jordan.
posted by zamboni at 1:22 PM on February 16, 2011

IANAHP but my understanding is that one of the safest things about helicopters is the fact that they can autorotate if an engine fails, the pilot can trade speed or height for lift and land safely even with no power.

Of course this relies on having speed or height to trade. Outside that safety envelope a helicopter with a failed engine is little better than a rock, it may be low altitude compared to normal flight but it's still comfortably high enough to kill you dead when the sudden stop at the end becomes an issue.

This, the most dangerous place in the flight envelope of a helicopter is where rescue pilots spend most of the day. And then the guy in the back jumps out attached to a string into whatever condition is rough enough to have caused someone to need rescuing in the first place.


There probably are jobs that earn more respect for just showing up to work in the morning but right now I can't think of any.
posted by Skorgu at 1:52 PM on February 16, 2011 [5 favorites]

I gotta say the Augusta Westland 139 is one hell of a rescue chopper. it's wicked fast (I think only the lynx is faster but don't quote me on that) and it's super-stable in hovers. that's a big deal since helicopters really constantly want to crash and you have to correct them a lot the slower you get. they made a good choice in purchasing this particular model.
posted by krautland at 2:02 PM on February 16, 2011

skorgu: autorotation, with explanation and gone wrong. they survived.
posted by krautland at 2:17 PM on February 16, 2011

Helicopters do not fly, they merely beat the air into submission for a short while.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:58 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is why pilots are badass.
posted by bwg at 5:45 PM on February 16, 2011

Or my favorite: A helicopter is 10,000 parts flying in close formation. See also the Jesus nut.
posted by Skorgu at 6:01 PM on February 16, 2011

Listening to the 2GB radio interview I'm gobsmacked. The pilot is a hero. I'm glad to be a Queenslander today.
posted by Jerub at 6:43 PM on February 16, 2011

As a Glaswegian, I've always wanted to be winched to safety.

these guys are great btw
posted by zingzangzung at 7:32 PM on February 16, 2011

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