Preliminary Report: EMS flight crashed in bay

 - February 8, 2007, 5:04 AM

EUROCOPTER BO 105S, SANTA ROSA BEACH, FLA., OCT. 20, 2004. An EMS flight of a Eurocopter BO 105S, callsign Airheart One, crashed in Choctawhatchee Bay at 12:43 a.m. two minutes after takeoff from Santa Rosa in IMC. No flight plan was filed. The helicopter, operated by Metro Aviation as a Part 135 emergency medical services flight, was destroyed and the commercial-rated pilot, a paramedic and a flight nurse were killed. Healthmark Hospital in DeFuniak Springs had requested the Airheart One helicopter to transport a patient to West Florida Hospital in Pensacola, Fla. At 12:41 a.m., Airheart One reported it was airborne with three people on board, 2 hours, 20 minutes of fuel and an estimated time en route to the hospital of 10 minutes. At 12:43, Airheart One reported that due to weather, it was returning to base. There were no further communications.

The wreckage of the helicopter was located in Choctawhatchee Bay in about 10 feet of water. A witness fishing near the site said he saw an unknown type of aircraft flying to the north on the east side of the bay, with “lights and a red light.” The aircraft turned toward the east and descended and he did not see or hear it again.
Radar data from Eglin Air Force Base showed that the flight was first seen on radar at 12:40:37 at 300 feet. It climbed to 900 feet, proceeding northbound across the bay.

The flight then descended to between 700 and 800 feet. At 12:42:18, the flight entered a turn to the east, and the last radar contact was recorded at 12:42:49, when the helicopter was heading east-southeast at 700 feet. This position was about three-quarters of a mile northeast of the crash site.