Helicopter accident two years after

Thursday, August 9, 2007 at 3:25 | Posted in Estonia, Finland, Personal | Leave a comment
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This was a happy landing for Copterline Sikorsky helicopter OH-HCI. I remember shooting the picture a few years ago in Tallinn as I was waiting to get on board a hydrofoil boat to Helsinki. Copterline’s landing site in Tallinn is right next to the hydrofoil terminal.

The very same chopper went down and drowned shortly after take off in Tallinn almost exactly two years ago, 10th August 2005. All 12 passengers and 2 crew members lost their life. I was not sure my picture was of the same helicopter until I checked it a moment ago in the interim report of the commission examining the accident (pdf file in Estonian). It was OH-HCI.

I remember the day of the accident. I heard about it at home in Helsinki from Estonian radio news. As I noted in this post, the weather was good that day although there had been heavy storms in Helsinki and Gulf of Finland the day and night before. I also noted that I had never flown on the line although I was interested in doing so. I still have not but not because of being afraid. The ticket is pretty expensive. But I am still interested.

I also heard in the news that the Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet was on board the previous departure. He flew to Helsinki to meet his Finnish colleague, then foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja. Mr. Paet was certainly lucky that he did not get stuffed in traffic and miss his flight!

When the names of the victims were subsequently released I learned that I actually knew two of them. They were not close friends or anything like that. Just two persons I used to know professionally in late 1980’ies and early 1990’ies. We would have said hello while passing by on the street and maybe exchanged a polite word or two if attending same meeting. I may also have made a couple of business calls to at least one of them.

I do not bother to read all that technical stuff on the commission’s report. Everything checked OK with the helicopter prior to the take off. It was properly serviced. The two pilots were experienced and they did nothing wrong during the short flight. The cause of the accident was unforeseen and lessons have already been learned about it.

While I did not experience a personal loss, I felt somewhat touched back then and I feel the same now two years later. I guess the accident served as a reminder that unexpected things happen all the time just like that, out of the blue. And just because they are unforeseeable there is no point in being too worried above the reasonable caution.

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