Tulsa Police's helicopter and crew survives encounter with a duck

Thursday, February 17th 2005, 12:18 pm
By: News On 6

Two Tulsa police officers were involved in an accident over the skies of Tulsa Thursday morning. A police helicopter ran into what they called an "unlicensed pilot". Of course, if they had "seen" the incoming airman, they may have tried to ‘duck.’

News on 6 anchor Terry Hood says the Tulsa Police Department's Air One helicopter was one of the first to be fitted with Nordam's seamless "True Vision" windshield. It's only fitting that they'd be one of the first to test its durability.

Nordam says the only other incident they've had with their new windshield, was in the skies over Baghdad. This accident happened just over downtown Tulsa.

Pilot Tim Smith says he was flying 115 miles an hour on a call when he heard a loud bang. The helicopter spun hard to the right and the officers on board thought the engine had exploded. Tulsa Police Sgt Ron Moulton: "The main thing you're thinking about then is, can I get this rascal to the ground in one piece."

At first, the pilot considered making an emergency landing OSU Tulsa. But when all of the gauges and indicator lights hadn't noticed a problem, he decided to keep flying. Tulsa Police officer Tim Smith: "So we thought well, what did happen?" A migrating duck had slammed into the bottom half of the chopper's windshield, ending up inside the aircraft on the floor, along with shards of Plexiglas from the windshield.

Experienced pilots say it's one of the hazards of flying at night. Moulton: "And ducks, you're just not going to see them, until they decide to get in the cockpit with you." Smith: "It's real lucky it didn't end up any higher and go up into the rotor system and get the blades out of balance."

It’s an accident that had potentially deadly consequences. The chopper will be out of commission for a while, but the pilots won't. Moulton: "It's not the first one and won't be the last one." Smith: "We'll go on. We're not afraid of flying."

Tulsa Police say the windshield worked just like it was supposed to. Nordam says it will take a couple of days to build a new windshield, and a couple more to get it installed.