TRAVERSE CITY — The same U.S. Coast Guard MH-65C “Dolphin” helicopter that was forced to make an emergency landing in a field in Gratiot County, Mich., in January had to make a second emergency landing Sunday morning.
A four-man crew on its way from the Traverse City air station to Ashland, Wis., for a search and rescue call made an emergency landing on Wisconsin’s Washington Island at around 8 a.m. Sunday because of problems with the helicopter’s controls. No one was injured.
The aircraft was flying at about 300 feet and approaching the island when the control issues started, Lt. Caleb Peacock said.
“At that point they had to make a decision because they were having control difficulty with the aircraft. There was an airport inland, but the aircraft commander decided it wasn’t feasible to proceed,” Peacock said.
The crew landed safely on the snow-covered beach, and a couple who lives on the island took them in until help arrived. The Traverse City air station sent a second helicopter to the island to pick up the crew and drop mechanics off at the site.
The helicopter will need to be lifted by crane onto a semi-trailer and brought back to Traverse City for more mechanical inspections before the Coast Guard will be able to figure out exactly what went wrong, Peacock said.
The aircraft had similar inspections done after the emergency landing in January, Peacock added. It also recently passed a control ability test.
Semi-retired CEO of the Washington Island Ferry Line Richard Purinton, who also runs the news and opinion blog Ferry Cabin News, spent some time with the Traverse City crew while they waited for the second crew to arrive.
“They were not willing to speculate about what happened, but they did say it’s an older aircraft. That’s not to say it isn’t a good-functioning aircraft,” he said.