Helicopter pilots talk flying dangers

MADERA COUNTY. (KFSN) -- The medical transport community is a small one, and at the Fresno County Sheriff's Office taking risks is part of the job.

"When you know what you do is life and death then it's difficult to make that decision of how far do I want to push it," Ryan Walker a pilot with the department said.

Walker has trained to fly in the toughest of conditions, but he's never actually had to live it, unlike the team that fatally crashed Thursday. "There's not a lot of helicopter pilots out there," Walker said. "So we all kind of know each other, it's heartbreaking."

It's still unclear why the chopper went down, but fog, rain and poor visibility was reported in the area at that time. It's a constant battle medical transport crews everywhere have to deal with. "Our pilots are the final say on weather call," transport coordinator Laura Cooper said. "They look at many different systems when they decide if it's a safe flight for them to take or not."

At Valley Children's hospital, it takes three crew members to go up, but only one person has to feel unsafe to keep them on the ground

In many circumstances valley fog can be life-threatening. "You do not want to fly in low visibility it can be very dangerous you can lose your visual references," Walker said.

Walker says unlike planes, helicopters typically don't have the equipment necessary to handle fog. Whatever the circumstances may be for flight crews, the tragedy is still hard to grasp.
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