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Enloe Health welcomes new helicopter for FlightCare program

Enloe Health Press Release | June 17, 2024

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 47 seconds.

Enloe Health unveiled its new Airbus H130 helicopter during a dedication ceremony at the Chico Air Museum.

Enloe Health’s FlightCare is the only hospital-owned and -operated air ambulance program in California. The new H130 arrived in Chico in May 2024, after being manufactured by Airbus in France and retrofitted as an air ambulance by United Rotorcraft in Colorado.

The new aircraft is an updated version of Enloe Health’s existing H130, previously called EC130T2. Both helicopters have additional space to accommodate lifesaving technologies, such as a temperature-controlled incubator for newborns and specialized equipment to transport complex heart patients.

Additionally, these helicopters have extra seating to help keep families together during transport.

“FlightCare is a pillar of our services, and this new addition to the fleet will fortify this essential program,” said Mike Wiltermood, Enloe Health’s president and CEO.

“Knowing that our patients have access to air transportation for the most critical situations, operated by a fantastic crew of pilots, flight nurses and paramedics, provides piece of mind to many in our communities.”

Recent years have proved particularly busy. FlightCare provided 1,040 patient transports in 2022, 923 in 2023 and 239 in the first quarter of 2024. FlightCare’s primary aircraft flies around 1,000 hours per year. A scheduled rotation between the current H130 and the new aircraft will allow Enloe to extend the life of both helicopters. The current backup aircraft, the 23-year-old AStar helicopter, will be retired.

“For 39 years we’ve been able to serve our communities, and we hope to continue to do so for a long time to come. This new helicopter will certainly help with that mission,” said Jenny Humphries, director of emergency medical services and chief flight nurse at Enloe Health.

“We are incredibly excited for this new chapter of FlightCare’s history.”

The cost of the new H130 was approximately $5.4 million, and the Enloe Health Foundation covered the majority of the cost through philanthropic gifts from the community. The fundraising efforts are ongoing.

“Our community has consistently supported this program, helping fund aircraft upgrades for more than two decades,” said Jolene Francis, Enloe Health’s vice president of philanthropy & communications. “We are profoundly grateful for their continued support.”

The new H130 will begin operations early this summer. FlightCare began in 1985. Since then, it has served more than 25,000 patients across Butte, Tehama, Glenn, Plumas, Colusa, Sierra, Yuba and Lassen counties.

To learn more about the campaign to bring a new helicopter to Enloe, visit www.enloe.org/takeflight.

This press release was prepared and distributed by Enloe Health.

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