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Manitoba teacher slams decision to land helicopter in schoolyard

Last Updated Thu, 02 Feb 2006 17:22:15 EST


CBC News

A teacher in a remote eastern Manitoba community was shocked to find a helicopter landing in the schoolyard while students were outside Wednesday morning.


The chopper was ferrying a judge, lawyers and a court clerk to the school in Little Grand Rapids, about 250 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. The school was hosting the local circuit court.


Teacher Pat Kelly, who was on yard duty when the helicopter landed, told CBC News he's never seen anything like the situation in the yard when the helicopter touched down.


"Where the helicopter landed and chose to land, was very, very close to the school, which was the frightening thing, you know, and which really had us all upset," he said.


"I was scared. My first reaction and the reaction of my counterpart who was out here ... was to get the students away from the helicopter because it was...on and the rotators were turning and it was really scary."


The students were rounded up safely and brought indoors while the helicopter blades whipped up snow in the schoolyard, Kelly said.


Officials with Taiga Air Services, which was chartered to shuttle the passengers, said in a release Thursday that the pilot initially tried to land in the parking lot of the nursing station. The parking lot had been used before but cars in the lot prevented a safe landing.


Passengers on the helicopter told the pilot they had previously landed in the vacant lot next to the school, the release said.


Officials said the pilot noticed children were in the area, but clear of the landing site. The helicopter landed after the pilot saw an adult was returning the children to the school.


Taiga Air officials said in the release that both the airline and the pilot have "spotless" safety records, and noted that the community has no designated landing area for helicopters.


Both the nursing station and the schoolyard are commonly used for helicopter landings, Taiga Air said, although neither is licensed or controlled by Transport Canada or the community.


Transport Canada has launched an investigation into the incident.

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This took place in "Little" Grand Rapids, not "Grand Rapids". During freeze-up and break-up every single year the schoolyard is used to transport people and cargo from the airport (which is on one side of the lake) to the community. The nursing station, the schoolyard and a couple of other spots are used. There is also another community nine miles north called Pauingassi that is also linked in the Spring and Fall only by chopper. The areas that are used for landing are pretty secure, are well known and have good approaches in and out (except for the Nursing Station in Little Grand, which only has one way in and out).


There has never been a problem to my knowledge and it has been going on since before I lived there (back in '89-90). The schoolyard is pretty big (unless they built another school since I was there) and if there are kids in the yard you would normally land well clear. These kids are not like the kids in South America or Africa that come running from five miles away if you land; they live in a community that has no road access and they have all grown up with float planes, ski planes and helicopters. I personally have landed in that schoolyard hundreds of times... as many as twenty times in one day.


I don't know the specific details of this "incident" because I wasn't there. But it sounds to me like this teacher is new... and in a couple of months will be quite used to the "rotators" in the yard, because the ice will start to go out by early April. As usual the media can be relied upon to inflame and titillate while providing absolutely nothing of any substance.




P.S. I personally saw a Transport 206 land in that schoolyard in the early 1990's to "check it out"... And I have picked up the local RCMP officers there many times... I could go on but I think I've made my point...

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worked out of there lots...as mentioned above helicopters have been in and around that place for years...just got off the phone from the driver who is a buddy of mine and has flown in Manitoba for over 20 years and is one of the best..as he told me the media is blowing it up and the horsemen( RCMP) who where right there saw no problems....business as usuall....but...complaint was filed,so they have to do an investigation...or waste more tax payers moolaw...one of the reasons I pulled the pin on that province...too many places for a lawsuite waiting to happen... :blink: :down: :shock:

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sounds to me like the only one who was sceered of the whirling rotators was teacher, pat kelly... shame on 'im ... givin us oirish folk a tawdry name ;)


with precedent obviously being set long ago (including transport canada), reasonableness will prevail... (the judge will be the pilot's best ally, i'm sure)... in the future (for added safety) a low pass prior to final could be the signal to round up the chilluns inside... unfortunately, they'll miss the airshow... & we all know there's probably a couple of future pilots in THAT crowd!

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I have to say, we had PMW land at my school last year (some moron parked beside the yellow tape in a white car, you put 2+2 together) and they made us stay way clear. Im pretty sure that the only kid standing watching would be me in thier situation, I would be staring intently and ignoring the teachers (**** teachers are always ruining my fun, I have a "careers in aviation day" with school in a couple weeks, and the teacher was trying to point out the hazards of the apron to me. I pointed out to said teacher that the apron it where I spend all of my time).


I know the pilot would have just flown away should he not think the field a safe place to land. The fact that he had lawyers and a judge as pax will mabey do some swaying.


Cole B)

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.. was to get the students away from the helicopter because it was...on and the rotators were turning and it was really scary."


WOW! It was ON when it landed???? And rotators turning???? :shock: :shock:


(What is a rotator anyway?)


And does he have any idea of how lucky he is to be alive! :down: :down:


People who don't know better, should keep their mouth shut. :cop:

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1) Pilot planned on landing at nursing station, but parked vehicles next to station prevented that and landing in front of the station was too close to the main doors.


2) Pilot chose to land in open field by school.......made two passes to check landing site and then landed when he saw teacher leading kids back towards school building.


Pilot: Good guy.... good pilot.... lots of common sense.


Teachers/Principal: Wanted position teaching in Winnipeg......none available......situation normal......severe case of "cabin fever" from isolation......ready to ***** about anything.......slow day at Winnipeg Free Press.


Proof: Married to teacher.



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