State Police add additional helicopter to north country fleet

SARANAC LAKE, NY — The New York State Police Aviation Unit, based out of SP Saranac Lake, have added another Bell UH-1-A Huey helicopter to help serve the people of the North Country.

The Bell UH-1-A Huey helicopter is used for law enforcement and search and rescue missions.

Hueys were used extensively in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to conduct damage assessments and Hurricane Irene to conduct hoist rescues of distressed citizens.

In 2018, State Police utilized four Huey helicopters for more than 250 flights. This included missions for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to rescue stranded hikers and other injured citizens, re-stock lakes with fish, take water samples of various Adirondack lakes to monitor quality and pollution, and conduct wildlife surveys that track various tagged species.

In addition, the Huey helicopters conducted a number of missions to fight forest fires.

The New York State Police acquired the new aircraft through the Department of Defense 1033 Excess Property program in July 2018.

Following mandatory inspections and outside maintenance, the helicopter was flown to SP Aviation Headquarters in Albany in November 2018. While in Albany, State Police mechanics installed necessary equipment including a rescue hoist and radio communications, updated navigational databases, and performed additional maintenance before it could be put into service in Saranac Lake.

The newest asset was used in a mission which occurred on April 23, 2019, shortly after 4 p.m., to rescue four 17-year-olds all from the Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs area who were stranded near the summit of Mount Colden in the town of North Elba. One of the teens was reported to have a leg injury, and all of the teen hikers were improperly equipped for the conditions. New York State Forest Rangers were dispatched to assist the subjects.

State Police Aviation delivered Rangers to the summit of Little Colden and extracted the teen at approximately 6:45 p.m. The injured teen was treated at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. The three remaining teens were treated for varying stages of hypothermia at the scene, and were escorted by a Ranger to the Adirondack Loj where they were reunited with family.