The Starflight fleet has outgrown its current space and is looking for an upgrade to their current location.
Starflight will be getting a brand new addition to its hangar on Allen Street in Jamestown in the coming month. The funding for the sizable addition to the hangar, which will double the space available for storage, equipment and maintenance is being provided by the WCA Services Corporation.
In May, Starflight recorded almost 50 patient flights, six mock DWI scenarios, and more than 100 take-offs and landings. When the old helicopters were replaced a few years ago, however, space became an issue. The original helicopters for the program were a twin-blade design, which allowed the blades to be positioned directly over the nose and tail of the aircraft. This meant that even in the current hangar, three helicopters could be stored side-by-side.
Officials gather to acknowledge a sizable donation made by the WCA Services Corporation that will be used to create a new hangar addition for Starflight.
The new helicopters, however, rely on a five-blade design that makes it impossible to fit both helicopters in the hangar fully assembled. As a result, one of the helicopters needs to be stored either outside in the elements, in a hangar at the airport, or in the current hangar with the blades removed. None of these cases are ideal, since all of them make a quick response to an accident very difficult for the Starflight crew.
"The most ideal of those situations would be to have one helicopter fully functional at the airport, but even that isn't ideal," said Debbie Weaver of Starflight. "The mechanic would have to go to the airport to perform maintenance checks, and he's also the co-pilot during the day, so it's far from ideal."
The new addition to the hangar will double the space that is currently available, allowing both helicopters to be stored at the Allen Street location.
"This will allow us to have all of our equipment and personnel in one location," said Weaver. "The only difference between the new addition and the original hangar is that the new addition won't have living space available for the pilots like the original hangar. This is a more efficient way to run the system, and all of the funding for the project came from the WCA Services Corporation."
Starflight is a collaborative effort between the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department, who provides the pilots, and WCA Health Care Systems, which provides everything else. The pilots are paid for through the Sheriff's Office by the WCA Services Corporation. The hangar is currently scheduled to be completed by July 4. For more information about Starflight, visit www.sheriff.us/info/starflight.htm.