Sea King helicopter lands near grocery store
Crew detected a hydraulic problem
A Sea King helicopter from CFB Shearwater made a controlled landing next to a Sobeys parking lot in Bedford, N.S around 2 p.m. Thursday.
Lt.–Col. Jeff Fletcher, the commanding officer of 423 Squadron, said they were returning from a routine training mission to Greenwood when the indicator light showed a problem with the helicopter's hydraulics.
"When that occurs, what we need to do at that point, we need to make an emergency landing," he said.
There were five people on board. Fletcher said they looked for the nearest safe location to land. They found an empty field, right next to a busy shopping area in Bedford.
"When we were at 3,000 feet, a mile and a half away, your heart's kind of racing a little bit," he said. "To think that you're going to be putting it in a parking lot or into an area like this, it's not something you necessarily want to do."
Fletcher said they practice for a situation like this several times a month.
"When it happens, your training just kicks in. You still get a heightened level of awareness, but that in itself, we're ready for when it happens."
Emergency vehicles rushed to the scene as the helicopter neared the parking area.
"It sure attracted a bit of a crowd. I don't remember when I last landed a helicopter and I had a couple of fire trucks, and the police response that we had. That's certainly not in the ordinary."
No one was injured in the incident.
CFB Shearwater spokesperson Lt. Navy Len Hickey said there will now be an investigation to determine exactly what caused the problem.
The helicopter is still sitting in the parking lot. Hickey said they haven't decided how it will be removed from the scene.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay also spoke about the unexpected landing.
"The imporant thing is everyone is fine, everybody has walked away from it," he said. "It's an unfortunate incident but it does happen with machinery."
This isn't the first time a Sea King has landed in the area. In 2010, a helicopter made a precautionary landing in Lower Sackville because of a hydraulic problem.