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First Helicopter Mercy Mission 1944!

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Commander Frank Erickson poses with a Hoverfly (Photo US Coast Guard)

On 03 January 1944, Commander Frank Erickson, United States Coast Guard, flew his Sikorsky HNS-1 Hoverfly helicopter in history’s first mercy flight. After an explosion sank the destroyer USS Turner, DD-648, Commander Erickson delivered over 40 units of blood plasma to a hospital at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. He had launched amid snow squalls from Floyd Bennett Field in New York, picked up the plasma at Battery Park in Manhattan and then flown the medical supplies to Sandy Hook. His flight was responsible for saving many of the surviving crew members of Turner. The explosion carried the Turner along with 15 out of the 16 officers and 123 out of 260 enlisted men to Davy Jones’ locker. You can find the official Navy record of the Turner’s explosion and sinking here

Commander Frank Erickson, Coast Guard Helicopter Pilot No. 1, in the cockpit of a Sikorsky HNS-1 Hoverfly. (Photo US Coast Guard)

USS Turner DD-648 (Photo US Navy)

Since 1944 helicopter mercy and rescue missions have become routine and have saved thousands of lives, watch Navy training for helicopter rescue missions below:

At Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum the H-1 Huey, H-3 Sea King, H-34 Seahorse and the AH-1J Sea Cobra helicopters are on display, more on them here…

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One thought on “First Helicopter Mercy Mission 1944!

  1. On behalf of my father, James C. O’Connor (who is still doing fine), who was a member of the crew of the Turner on that Jan. morning; Thanks. It was not until 1984 when I was in training to be a flight nurse that I learned about the connection between the Turner explosion and the use of helicopters to carry blood. It’s all about connections.

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