Modern helicopters are safer, more efficient and more useful than ever before. They operate in harsh and remote environments, fly into tight spots and perform missions that no other type of aircraft could ever accomplish. Helicopters affect our lives in many ways.
Here are five of them:
When every second counts, first responders and medical professionals count on helicopter air ambulances to transport accident victims and critically ill patients to the hospital. Countless lives have been saved since the first civilian hospital-based helicopter air ambulance service was started in 1972 and Air Ambulance News reports close to 400,000 rotor-wing medical transports a year in the U.S. alone. No one wants to take a medevac flight, but it’s comforting to know they’re available.
You’re safer and more secure thanks to military helicopters flown by defense forces the world over. They’re used to transport troops and supplies, perform search and rescue missions, evacuate wounded and injured service members, serve as airborne command posts, and much more. Military helicopters not only defend the homeland, they’re often deployed to support civilian search and rescue operations on land and at sea and to fly humanitarian missions to help disaster victims.
Helicopters help us discover, produce and preserve the natural resources we use every day. Electric utilities use helicopters in many ways, including the inspection of powerlines in remote areas. Oil and gas companies explore new resources and transport workers to offshore oil rigs with helicopters. Helicopters also carry sophisticated instruments that let forestry and mining companies keep an eye on their resources and assets.
Search and Rescue
Whether it’s the Coast Guard looking for a stranded sailor, a hurricane victim being plucked from a rooftop, the sheriff’s department trying to find a lost child, or a paramedic picking up a hiker with a broken leg, there’s simply no substitute for a helicopter when it comes to search and rescue. Every year thousands of people look to the sky and listen for the comforting “whop whop” of rotor blades when they need a helping hand.
Helicopters are a key tool used in aerial firefighting, especially in remote regions. Smokejumpers can rappel onto the scene of a forest fire or wildfire from a helicopter. But more often helicopters are used to dump water or retardant on the blaze. Some helicopters, called helitankers, use internal tanks while others use buckets suspended beneath the aircraft and filled by dipping them in a nearby body of water. Sometimes helicopters extinguish a fire before ground crews even arrive.