Night-flying firefighting helicopter crashes into Montana lake

Tuesday night, August 4, a helicopter with a water bucket crashed into a lake while helping to suppress a fire in Montana. It happened at about 10:30 p.m. when one of the helicopters owned by Two Bear Air, flown by Jordan White the executive director and flight officer of the company, was dipping water out of Beaver Lake north of Whitefish. Mr. White was able to extricate himself from the helicopter and swim to shore just before the aircraft sank.

We checked, and the sun will set at 9:06 p.m. in Whitefish, MT tonight.

After several hours of searching the lake with sonar, Flathead County Sheriff personnel and their dive team were able to attach floats to the helicopter, bring it to the surface, and take it to the shore.

Mr. White, the former Flathead County undersheriff, said the helicopter is not part of the Two Bear Air rescue fleet.

The company was founded by Mike Goguen, a managing partner of Sequoia Capital, the California firm that was the original financial backer of Apple, Google and YouTube, among others. He provides a Bell 429 and an MD 500E to any agency that needs a helicopter for a rescue mission — at no charge. He has spent $11 million purchasing, equipping, and operating the two rescue helicopters based in Whitefish, Montana.

In 2014 they flew 125 missions, an average of one every three days. In March, 2015 the Bell 429 used its night flying capabilities, hoist, and infrared sensor at 1 a.m. to locate a teenage girl who became lost and was pinned when a tree fell on her.

Articles at Fire Aviation tagged Two Bear Air.

2 thoughts on “Night-flying firefighting helicopter crashes into Montana lake”

    1. It would appear to be… I heard it was a small fire on private property belonging to the helicopter owner.

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