What the stork is flying these days

 - May 19, 2008, 7:14 AM

Date and time of birth was April 2, 2002, at 4:54 a.m. Place of birth was somewhat unusual: inside a Eurocopter BK 117 approximately 1,000 ft above the rural countryside of Maryland’s eastern shore. That’s when little six-pound Benjamin Crittenden entered the world aboard a STAT Medevac helicopter en route from St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardstown on Maryland’s eastern shore to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

And while the helicopter is fast, it wasn’t quite fast enough for either little Benjamin or his mother, Penney, at least in terms of making it to the hospital. Six weeks premature, this baby was in a hurry. “The birth of my daughter a few years ago was surprisingly easy and fast,” said Penney. “This was even more so. Before we knew it, there was little Ben.”

The remainder of the flight was uneventful, and within days both mother and child were back home (transported there by more conventional means) and feeling great. It was Penney’s first ride in a helicopter and (obviously) baby Benjamin’s first as well. In the tens of thousands of emergency obstetrical flights STAT Medevac has performed since it began operations in 1984, this was the first nonstop flight that landed with more souls on board than it launched with.

Here the crew of STAT Medevac flight 10–(l to r, back row) pilot Mike Zangara, flight nurse Lisa Denton and paramedic Jarrett Dixon–take a break after their unusual mission. (Denton later said, “This was the coolest thing I’ve ever done!”) In the photo, the crew is joined by the passengers, baby Benjamin (being held by his proud older sister Dana) and mother Penney, far right. Asked what she thought of her first helicopter ride, Penney answered, “I don’t know. I was kind of busy on this one.