Two Bear says helicopter pilot has years of experience


KALISPELL, Mont. - People are talking about a close call in the Jewel Basin when a chopper with public workers on board made a hard landing. Folks from Two Bear, the company who owns the helicopter, say pilot Jason Johnson has over 16 years and 5,000-plus hours of flying experience.

Sheriff Chuck Curry tells us two Flathead County employees were on their way to work on a radio tower on Mount Aeneas in the Jewel Basin when the helicopter lost directional control. When Johnson regained control, he had to make an emergency landing into a snowfield on the back side of the mountain. The chopper rolled onto its side after it landed. Luckily, no one was injured.

"[It's] important to remember that any mechanical mode of conveyance is still put together with bolts and screws and is going to have problems," explained Jordan White, manager for Two Bear. "The critical element is the amount of training and experience to get an aircraft in those circumstances safely on the ground to where everyone walks away. And for that we consider it a success."

Curry tells us the county often performs routine maintenance on towers in and around the valley. The FAA and the NTSB are currently investigating the incident.

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