A PHI Air Medical helicopter was dispatched to Highway 91N in Johnson County last Friday afternoon to transport a patient for treatment. Upon liftoff with the patient, witnesses said the helicopter reached about 80 to 100 feet in the air when it suddenly plummeted to the ground in a cloud of blue smoke. The pilot sustained minor injuries in the crash and he and the original patient were air lifted by another helicopter to Wellmont.
Although results from the Federal Aviation Administration were unavailable at press time, the pilot told news sources that after takeoff, he identified a mechanical condition in the helicopter that required immediate landing. He executed emergency procedures to bring the aircraft to the ground, limiting risk to the passengers and damage to the aircraft. According to Wellmont officials, the pilot was evaluated and released from the medical facility where he was taken.