Local pilot talks about the dangers of texting and flying

By: Kevin Hurd Email
By: Kevin Hurd Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Last week the NTSB said texting was a contributing factor a 2011 helicopter crashed that killed four people on board.

On the heels of the ruling, we talked with a pilot of Mayo One, the helicopter that flies patients to hospitals.

Day after day, the helicopter blades on Mayo One spin as the flight and medical crews hurry to hospitals from St. Paul to Rochester, Duluth to Eau Claire, and everywhere in between.

You've seen the helicopter from the outside, but go inside, and it is a complex network of buttons and screens to help keep the chopper in the air.

And with so much to pay attention to, Kim Randall, who pilots Mayo One, has no idea why any pilot would be sending text messages while flying.

"It's taxing enough flying the aircraft as it is without extraneous distractions such as texting, it would be worse doing it in that case than doing it in a car," he said.

He says the FAA requires all devices to be turned off near the ground, for hover, departure, and landing. Mayo Clinic does not allow devices at all during the flight.

"Mayo Clinic says any of the electronic devices except the Toughbook laptop are available before and after the flight, but during the flight they are all turned off," he said.

Along with texting prior to and during the flight, the NTSB also said the pilot in the 2011 crash did not fuel up initially before taking off, nor did he do so during a pre-flight check on a second departure.

"I'll look for anything lying on the cart or on the steps," he said while showing us around the chopper.

Before every take off, Randall and his crew check to make sure the chopper is in good flying condition. Even the smallest things are given a second look.

"Fuel doors closed," he said while showing us a mock inspection.

A lot of small details to make sure this bird can take off and land safely every day. Leaving no time for texting or distracted flying.

"It's something I wouldn't do, I'm busy enough without that kind of distraction," he added.


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