Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office re-launched the Metro Air Support Unit Monday morning at Double Eagle Airport for the first time since a deadly helicopter crash in July that killed four first responders.
A Star E3 helicopter known as Metro 1 took flight shortly after a brief 10 a.m. press conference at the BCSO Hangar. This was the first flight from MASU since the deadly crash of the Bell Huey, known as Metro 2, on July 16.
In that crash, Lt. Fred Beers, Undersheriff Larry Korea, Deputy Michael Levison and Specialist Matthew King were killed near Las Vegas, New Mexico, while on their return trip to Albuquerque after assisting with a wildfire. They had spent the day providing bucket drops and other air logistics needs to assist fire crews on the ground.
Before the re-launch, BCSO Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III spoke to the media and thanked the flight crew and workers who helped get the unit back in the sky.
“They’ve had their challenges since the accident in July and it’s been difficult,” Gonzales III said. “But today is a good day. It’s a good day because the aircraft is going to go up today and a lot of people were uncertain if we were going to be able to move forward. I give all the credit to the staff; it’s been very difficult for them to come to work everyday knowing the losses they’ve had but they’ve come to work diligently, working hard, with the thought of getting back in the air.”
BCSO’s air support unit has been grounded without a pilot or support staff since the crash of Metro 2.
“This asset has been missed, it’s been missed by the community” Gonzales III said. “I get asked literally on a daily basis about the Air Unit and what it does for this community.”