Anne Arundel police helicopter lands in creek after snagging power line

August 31, 1994|By Gregory P. Kane | Gregory P. Kane,Sun Staff Writer

The pilot of a county police traffic helicopter that snagged a power line over Cockey Creek yesterday managed to land the craft in the water a few feet from a Pasadena Girl Scout camp. He and a police observer escaped with minor injuries, officials said.

Tom Parlett Sr., 49, the pilot and owner of Annapolis Flying Service, received a bump on the nose and required no hospitalization. Cpl. Richard Hall of the county Police Department's Southern District was treated at Anne Arundel Medical Center for scrapes on his head and hands, said Officer Randy Bell, a police spokesman.

The helicopter, a Hughes 300 leased from Annapolis Flying Service, was put on a tow truck and taken to Lee Airport in Annapolis.

Mr. Parlett and Corporal Hall had finished observing morning traffic and were preparing for an afternoon assignment when, shortly before noon, "they decided to go on a pro-active, low-level observation," Officer Bell said.

Mr. Parlett apparently failed to see the power lines that stretched across Cockey Creek from Creek Blvd. to Camp Whipporwill, which was unoccupied at the time, Officer Bell said.

The helicopter hit one of the lines. Mr. Parlett looked for shallow water in which to land the helicopter. He set it down in 3 feet of water with the power line still attached to the aircraft, Officer Bell said.

"If he had kept going there would have been a real problem," the spokesman said. "You can attribute their safety to the experience and number of flying hours the pilot has had."

Mr. Parlett is a licensed commercial pilot with a helicopter rating who has 600 hours of flying time with the county Police Department alone and has been through the helicopter training program of the Baltimore City Police Department, Officer Bell said. Corporal Hall is a 20-year veteran of the department and is a trained observer.

Arthur Slusark, a spokesman for the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., said that 600 customers were without service from about noon to 3:30 p.m. "It was a 13,000 volt line," Mr. Slusark said. "It's not a high voltage line. It's a normal one to serve a neighborhood."

The specially equipped helicopter is the only one the department uses, but Officer Bell said he did not anticipate an adverse effect on department operations.

"We only used it on an as-needed basis anyway," he said. "It's not something that is critical to our day-to-day operations, but we're going to miss it."

The accident is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration, Officer Bell said. An official with the agency surveyed the scene about 15 minutes before the helicopter was taken away around 2:30 p.m., Officer Bell said.

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