State Forestry Helicopter Crew Honored for Rescue Mission

April 16, 2009

Nevada Division of Forestry Pilot Nick Lopes (left) and Helicopter Manager Lee Stewart (right) receive letters of appreciation from Commander Shane Yates, operations manager at Naval Air Station, Fallon, for their assistance in rescuing skiers near Heavenly, Nevada.

Nevada Division of Forestry Pilot Nick Lopes (left) and Helicopter Manager Lee Stewart (right) receive letters of appreciation from Commander Shane Yates, operations manager at Naval Air Station, Fallon, for their assistance in rescuing skiers near Heavenly, Nevada.

Nevada Division of Forestry Pilot Nick Lopes (left) and Helicopter Manager Lee Stewart (right) receive letters of appreciation from Commander Shane Yates, operations manager at Naval Air Station, Fallon, for their assistance in rescuing skiers near Heavenly, Nevada.

MINDEN, Nev. — When a skier went missing from Heavenly Ski Resort on March 3, an air-based search was determined to be the best way to look for the individual in the mountainous terrain.

Within an hour of being called out to the mission, the Nevada Division of Forestry’s helicopter crew spotted the skier. The skier was not in a position to be rescued on foot because of heavy snow, so Fallon Naval Air Station personnel, who were also part of the search and rescue mission, recovered the skier from its helicopter.

Meanwhile, NDF’s crew spotted two more skiers, who also appeared to be in trouble and out of resort’s boundary. Contact was made with the two additional skiers, and it was determined that because of heavy snow and hypothermia setting in, that naval ground crews would rescue the skiers.

NDF’s air operations provide search and rescue support, though the helicopter crew’s primary mission is initial attacks on wildland fires. The crew averages 100 hours of flight time 35 days a year helping to fight wildfires.