Maine National Guard unveils new HH-60 helicopters | News

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Maine National Guard unveils new HH-60 helicopters

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER)- Maine's Army National Guard unveiled new rides. Three sleek HH-60 choppers were added to the fleet. The new Blackhawk models are the newest aircrafts in the army and will expedite evacuation and rescue missions.

One of the three pilots, Chief Officer Evan Vreeland, spent almost two months learning to fly the new bird, "Basically it just takes all the lessons we have learned over the last thirty years and incorporates all the new digital technology. [It] really makes it a more capable aircraft."

Some features include a fully integrated auto-pilot, multiple GPS systems, and digital moving maps. These systems require two pilots to take the bird to air, but this advanced system can fly itself.

Vreeland says this allows the pilot to focus on other aspects of the mission.

"It takes a lot of the workload off as far as figuring out where we got to go...The aircraft will actually fly us right there. We can focus on coordinating with the rescue authorities, making sure the medical response team is on stand-by, and alerting the hospital."

The HH-60 acts as an ambulance in the sky. Colonel David Smith with the Army National Guard said, "The biggest thing is the medical interior for this aircraft. It has built-in oxygen generation, suction, and it gives the medic space to provide care for our soldiers."

But soldiers are not the only ones that will benefit from the new choppers, civilians will too. Although the helicopters will be deployed overseas a crew will stay to assist state agencies.

"Whether it be a soldier or a civilian getting them on board the aircraft, patient care enroute, and patient comfort is all improved with this aircraft....It will serve the people of Maine quite well," said Vreeland.

Additional pilots are training to fly the HH-60 and the National Guard expects to have three more added to the fleet by spring.