A venture capitalist has spent $11 million purchasing, equipping, and operating two rescue helicopters based in Whitefish, Montana. Mike Goguen is 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.
We have written about Two Bear Air, the company formed to managed the helicopter company, twice before, in articles tagged Two Bear Air (naturally).
In 2014 they flew 125 missions, an average of one every three days.
In March 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.
Below is an excerpt from an excellent and detailed article in the Missoulian that brings us up to date on how the rescue operation came into being, and how it has been used in the last couple of years.
…A private citizen has spent millions of dollars of his own money to buy Two Bear Air’s helicopters, and pays every dime spent operating them on search and rescue missions.
“The resource provided to us, tax-free, is priceless,” Curry says. “The county could never afford a program that provides these resources.”
They include a $6 million twin-engine Bell 429 helicopter with $2 million worth of extras, including thermal imaging, night vision and infrared camera systems that allow searching to continue when it’s dark.
“It’s one of the best, if not the best, equipped aircraft in the western United States,” Curry says. Two Bear Air makes it available for search and rescue missions across western and central Montana, and in Idaho, 24 hours a day, at no cost to anyone except the part-time Whitefish resident who foots the bill for it all.
His name is Mike Goguen. He’s spent more than $11 million of his own fortune putting Two Bear in the air.