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How Air Evac Lifeteam is helping crews prepare for a pilot incapacitation event

When the pilot of an Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter suffered an in-flight medical emergency on Jan. 12, 2018, two things on board the Bell 206L LongRanger helped achieve a successful outcome. The first was a recently installed Genesys HeliSAS stability augmentation system and autopilot, which kept the aircraft stable until the pilot recovered enough faculties to land in an open field. The second was the high-functioning team of flight paramedic Lane Abshire and flight nurse Tara Coupel, whose refusal to give up was just as instrumental in getting the helicopter safely to the ground.

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What’s it’s like to fly an 11,500-pound experimental helicopter (with zero experience)

We’re hovering over the tarmac in a large helicopter. Mark Ward, a former commander in the Coast Guard, is on my left, giving me a brief, real-time lesson in how to fly a chopper?a 5.8-ton, multi-million-dollar flying machine that, incredibly, I get to operate the old-fashioned way.

It’s early September, and the treeline along the Housatonic River by the flight field in Stratford, Connecticut, is still green. The cockpit holds a wealth of screens, switches, buttons, and gauges, but I only need to focus on three key controls: the rudder pedals at my feet, a lever called the collective to my left, and a stick known as the cyclic between my knees.

Those are the basic controls that any helicopter pilot must master, and I?m certainly no pilot. But Ward is. He flew search and rescue HH-60J helicopters before joining Sikorsky, the company that makes the experimental, highly-customized chopper that?s letting us defy gravity right now.

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The Army?s Next Attack Helicopter Could Look Like This

After spending much of the past decade almost exclusively building and developing tiltrotor aircraft for the U.S. military, Bell is returning to its roots, pitching the U.S. Army a traditional helicopter for attack and reconnaissance missions.

The Textron company on Tuesday unveiled the Bell 360 Invictus, with a sporty-looking, new design that executives say is based on existing commercial technology, keeping it cheap to fly and maintain. 

?If you need ? and can afford a Corvette, do you go buy a Ferrari,? Jeffrey Schloesser, executive Bell?s vice president of strategic pursuits, said during a briefing in Arlington, Virginia. ?This is not a truck. This is a high-speed, agile aircraft at an affordable price that meets all the requirements from the U.S. Army.?

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The Pentagon?s 2020 Budget Asks for Nearly 380 Aircraft, But One Buy Is Raising Eyebrows

The Trump Administration?s 2020 Budget is out, and the Pentagon is asking for 17 more aircraft than it received in 2019. A quick tally of the aircraft shows the number of fighter jets and unmanned aerial vehicles the services are asking for is down slightly, while the number of helicopters is up. Also, the Air Force is purchasing eight new F-15s in a deal that smells fishy, given the Acting Secretary of Defense?s work career.

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