Historic moment for rescue flight pioneer – salzburg.ORF.at
In the 1980s, Sandra Kinkade-Hutton herself served as a specially trained nurse on a light Alouette III (Aerospatiale SA 319) – together with rescue pilots and a paramedic, as paramedics are called in the USA. The team’s area of operation was the local expanses and high mountains around Lake Tahoe in the states of California and Nevada. She often brings mountaineers back to life there. The excellent flight and climb performance of the French model benefited them greatly, says the American.
Beaming with joy at Hangar 7
This week there was a joyful reunion – completely unexpected. She is a specialist in the American helicopter industry who has been active for many years and had never thought to find an Alouette III in full rescue service anywhere in the world. In addition, perfectly serviced and maintained, strictly checked and approved by the authorities – with regular tests of a technology that was developed more than 60 years ago in France for mountain, desert and jungle flights. The word Alouette means skylark…
Photo series with 16 pictures
How did the encounter come about?
All Austrian helicopter operators have each ordered a machine for Hangar 7 at Salzburg Airport for the international rescue pilot congress AirMed 2022 in Salzburg.
Descendant of Holocaust Victims: The American connects Austria with another, anything but pleasant story. Some of her ancestors had Jewish roots, came from the Netherlands and did not manage to escape from the National Socialists in 1939. End stations were the Nazi death and extermination camps in Auschwitz in today’s Poland and Mauthausen (Upper Austria). On her next visit, Sandra Kinkade-Huttob will visit the memorial there.
The congress audience from many European countries and from overseas was welcomed – at the invitation of the organizers and organizers at the Austrian state, the Christophorus-Flugrettungsverein (ÖAMTC). The former civil rescue pilot Sandra Kinkade-Hutton was overwhelmed when she suddenly saw the Austrian Armed Forces aircraft from Aigen im Ennstal on the apron: “The men in this crew thought, what is this freaked American woman doing here? But for me this is a touching day! And they were very forthcoming.”
Specialist in the US heli industry
On her favorite Alouette III near Lake Tahoe in the Southwest of the USA, Kinkade-Hutton gained her medical and air rescue experience, which was later much sought after in the industry. This flying time secured her a management job at the manufacturing company Bell Textron Helicopters in Fort Worth, Texas in the following years. There it is about the development of practical medical technology and interior design of increasingly modern emergency doctor helicopters. The lady is now retired and is still passed around the industry as a consultant and lecturer.
Historical photos from their flight service:
Photo series with 5 pictures
In praise of French engineers
The division of tasks in an Alouette III was thought through perfectly by the engineers at the manufacturer Aerospatiale. The US specialist still sees the design of the machine as exemplary and groundbreaking at the time: Where and how is the patient lying? How do you get close to him – also during the flight? How can the cable winch be operated well and quickly if there are several injured people? How suitable is the canopy construction for visual flight in difficult conditions?
With such topics, Kinkade-Hutton quickly got underway in Salzburg with Lieutenant Colonel Udo Koller, the pilot and commander of the Austrian Alouette from Upper Styria. Other crew members: flight rescuer Mark Penker (staff sergeant) and flight technician and steel cable winch specialist Werner Sölle (vice lieutenant). On call, there is also a woman or a man on this helicopter as an emergency doctor.
A total of nine rescue helicopters
could be seen at AirMed 2022 at Hangar 7, the Alouette III by far the oldest machine – and certainly for the last time forever:
Photo series with 19 pictures
Final retirement of the Alouette soon
Many fans do not like this at all, but according to experts it is inevitable. The army has to finally get rid of its last Alouette III in just a few weeks. The legendary high alpine machines are replaced by brand new, much more powerful and larger Agusta-Westland AW 169 from Italy. These are many younger generations, but they do not offer such a perfect all-round view as the “flying conservatories”, as the Alouette III is affectionately called.
Wistful farewell and anticipation
Flight technician and steel cable winch operator Werner Sölle says that the main helicopter parts and the powerful gas turbine on the back of the Alouette are extremely easy to access – a legendary construction, the maintenance work is still a pleasure – if necessary also on the way to external landing sites: “This industrial design from France has proven itself over the decades in all climate zones, but now its time has come to an end here too. There are hardly any spare parts available worldwide – for example suitable rotor blades. And even in France, experts are smiling that we have been using these gems for so long.”
Senior war officer, formerly an air rescuer himself
A long-time fan and former user of the Alouette is also an officer in the army, who ranks quite high. At a young age he completed his hours as a flight rescuer on such military machines in alpine service: “I can see the end with tears in my eyes. But it’s time for the museum. But we are very much looking forward to the new Agusta-Westland. We hope that a private operator will drive one or the other of our machines and keep them airworthy.”
“Survive” Individual Alouettes?
A nod to the fence post? With a wink, the officer expressed his hope that individual machines would continue to exist. Hangar 7 at Salzburg Airport, for example, houses part of the historically based Flying Bulls fleet, which Red Bull invested enormous amounts of money in keeping airworthy. Who knows what else will happen at this level with an Alouette or two? The hope of many fans dies last.