Mattresses Aid Helo Landing

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A medical helicopter broke a skid in flight when it hit a cellphone tower early Sunday morning, but the crew landed safely at San Antonio International Airport after firefighters built a pile of mattresses to take the place of the missing skid. The Bell 407 helicopter, with three crew and a patient on board, was headed for the San Antonio Military Medical Center about 3:30 a.m. when the accident occurred. "[The pilot] knew if he landed, that he would crash," firefighter Kevin Campbell told the San Antonio Express-News. "He suggested mattresses, and I told Engine 23 to grab three or four mattresses from the dorm." They also brought 45-pound weights from the firehouse gym to hold the mattresses down. Campbell said the helicopter crew hovered for a short time before attempting the landing. "It was tense for a little bit," he said. But the helicopter landed safely, and nobody was hurt. "It worked great," Campbell said.

"All the credit goes to the pilot," Campbell added. "We were glad it worked out. But no, I don't think I ever want to do that again." FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford told the Houston Chronicle that using mattresses for the emergency landing is "what you'd call fast thinking." The FAA will investigate whether the cell tower had proper lighting and at what altitude the helicopter was flying, he said. Another helicopter took the patient to the medical center.