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Metro Aviation conducted annual training for 34 lead pilots last week. Pilots gathered at the company’s new training facility at its Shreveport, La. headquarters. During the culminating dinner, Metro recognized Joseph “Woody” Woodard, Lead Pilot for the First Flight program in Melbourne, Fla.
Woodard was honored for his quick thinking and commendable actions during a bird strike in February. While flying the Health First EC135, First Flight, seven ducks struck the aircraft. The helicopter was sent into a left hand dive, and Woodard was left without sight due to one of the birds hitting him between the eyes, effectively tearing off his Night Vision goggles. Ducks broke through several windows and one landed in the pilot’s lap. With a broken nose, minor cuts and plexiglass on his chest, Woodard was able to make a successful emergency landing at a nearby hospital. Starr Companies, Metro Aviation’s insurer, recognized Woodard for his efforts and avoidance “of a possible catastrophic accident.”
“It’s hard to train for something like this, but the medical crew did a good job to keep a calm environment,” said Woodard. “I am honored to receive this prestigious safety award and thankful I was able to get the aircraft to the ground safely. I’d like to thank Starr and Metro Aviation for the recognition.”
Woodard has flown for Metro since 1985. He was commended for his efforts in a letter from Bill Eason, President of Starr Companies. “Your ability to maintain composure in such an environment, while injured in a damaged aircraft is truly commendable,” wrote Eason.
More than 9,500 bird strikes are reported each year according to the FAA and the results can be damaging to personnel and equipment. Metro has been tracking and analyzing these strikes and recently issued additional operating guidelines and equipped aircraft with pulse light systems. Metro Aviation places the highest emphasis on safety and training, and congratulates Woody on this most deserved recognition.
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