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September 18, 2017 - By Catherine Stortz Ripley (C-T) - Community members toured the new LifeFlight Eagle ambulance helicopter base at Chillicothe Municipal Airport on Saturday, September 16, 2017. Organization representatives as well as city of Chillicothe officials were on hand and offered remarks during a brief program that was followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a free lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs. The open house was a come-and-go event and members of the public could get a close-up view an air ambulance, visit with LifeFlight Eagle team members and learn more about the organization. A bounce house and other inflatable recreation units were set up for youngsters' enjoyment. Individuals could also put on flight suits and have their pictures taken by the helicopter.

C-T Photos / Catherine Stortz Ripley


The Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce, along with representatives of the city of Chillicothe and LifeFlight Eagle,
as well as members of the community gather for a ribbon-cutting ceremony signaling the opening of LifeFlight’s
new base in Chillicothe. The ceremony took place during an open house Saturday morning.


Kennedy and Reagan Cross, daughters of Hayley Cross, of Trenton, pose with Lachelle Hatcher, a flight nurse,
during Saturday's open house. The girls were among many youngsters who tried on flight suits and had their pictures taken.
The girls' aunt is Staci Cross, who is a flight nurse.

Saturday's open house program opened with Matt Daugherty, director of business development for LifeFlight Eagle, welcoming those in attendance. Chillicothe Firefighter Chaplain Bill Gutshall gave the invocation. Chillicothe Mayor Chuck Haney introduced City Council members, past and present, who were in attendance, as well as the past city administrator, Ike Holland, and current city administrator, Darin Chappell.

Roxanne Shanks, CEO of LifeFlight Eagle, stated, "We are excited about being in your community, and we are anxious to get moved in." "Thank you. Thank you to the city and entire community." As a token of appreciation to the city and to Fire Chief Wright, Shanks presented Haney and Wright with plaques of recognition and also gave Wright a hand-carved, hand-painted wooden aircraft in the likeness of LifeFlight Eagle. "This will allow us to provide critical care transport for years to come," she said. "This is a wonderful facility, and we appreciate everything that you have done for us." She also recognized several sponsors, including Lowe's, Hy-Vee, Citizens Bank, Woody's, Clark's, and Wal-Mart.

LifeFlight Eagle broke ground for the Chillicothe base in December and plans to start operating out of the new station within the next 10 days. The overall project cost is around $1.3 million. Life-Flight Eagle will pay $500,000 of the cost through a long-term lease agreement with the city of Chillicothe. The organization signed a 15-year lease with the city and has options for multiple five-year extensions. Burman Construction, of Ozark, Missouri, is the general contractor on the project. The LifeFlight Eagle station will be operational year 'round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. LifeFlight Eagle has had a base in Trenton since 2005 but began looking for alternate base locations after a 2014 flood forced them out of their base for nearly three months. Jeff Willhite, LifeFlight Eagle's vice president of program operations, said during the groundbreaking ceremony that LifeFlight expects to be able to respond to more requests for emergency transport in the region because they would not suffer the same localized fog issues in Chillicothe that they did in Trenton and that it would provide the needed weather reporting information to quickly determine suitability for flight.

September 14, 2017 - By Catherine Stortz Ripley (C-T) - Construction of the new LifeFlight Eagle hangar at Chillicothe Municipal Airport is nearing completion, and an open house will be Saturday, September 16, 2017, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. The open house will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a free lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers, children's activities, and more. The open house will be a come-and-go event, with remarks by city officials and LifeFlight Eagle representatives at 11:30 a.m., followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Also during the open house, members of the public will be able to sit in the helicopter, see emergency apparatus, meet the LifeFlight Eagle team and learn more about the organization as well as try on flight suits and visit a photo booth. LifeFlight Eagle broke ground for the Chillicothe base in December and plans to start operating out of the new base within the next two weeks. The overall project is estimated to cost around $1.3 million. LifeFlight Eagle will pay $500,000 through a long-term lease agreement with the city of Chillicothe, according to City Auditor Theresa Kelly. The organization signed a 15-year lease with the city for the facility and has options for multiple five-year extensions. The facility won't be completed in time for the open house; however, community members will be able to see how the station will look. 


By Catherine Stortz Ripley (C-T)

Crews on site Wednesday were working to get the framework of the door balanced so that the steel siding skin can be put in place. Once the door is completed and the facility is enclosed, the floor can be completed. It is anticipated that LifeFlight Eagle will begin operating from the Chillicothe base by the end of next week or the following week. Burman Construction, of Ozark, Missouri, is the general contractor on the project.

The LifeFlight Eagle station will be operational year-round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. LifeFlight Eagle has had a base in Trenton since 2005 but began looking for alternate base locations after a 2014 flood forced them out of their base for nearly three months. The base will include a hangar for LifeFlight Eagle's specially-equipped helicopter, as well as crew quarters, where a pilot, flight nurse and flight paramedic are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The facility has five bedrooms, a kitchen and living area as well as work areas for the flight nurse, flight paramedic and pilot. Additionally, there will be a fitness area in the loft which is located above the living quarters with exercise equipment. The building component is modeled after LifeFlight Eagle hangars in Odessa and Clinton. Unique to Chillicothe's hangar is the incorporation of a supply room that will double as a hardened storm shelter.

August 2, 2017 - Completion of the LifeFlight Eagle hangar at Chillicothe Municipal Airport is expected to be near the end August, a slight delay from the original August 16 estimate. The most significant reason for the setback is a delay involving the windows and storefront entry door, according to Chillicothe Fire Chief Darrell Wright. The chief presented a construction update during the workshop meeting of the Chillicothe City Council Monday evening at City Hall. He stated that sewer construction was expected to begin this week and be in full operation by August 16. He said the building will be significantly finished this week as crews are finishing the electrical work as well as the heating and air conditioning. The interior painting is mostly completed, and the remaining concrete will be poured this week. The flooring is expected to be finished next week and LifeFlight will be cleared to install appliances, radios and phones after August 11. An open house is being planned for Saturday, September 16.

June 14, 2017 - Work is progressing for the new LifeFlight Eagle ambulance helicopter hangar currently under construction at the Chillicothe Municipal Airport. Some members of the Chillicothe City Council toured the facility Monday evening. It is anticipated that LifeFlight will begin its operations out of Chillicothe in August.


C-T Photo / Jaime Saucedo

May 22, 2017 - Work is progressing for the new LifeFlight Eagle ambulance helicopter hangar that will be located near the entrance of Chillicothe Municipal Airport. The structural steel was erected a couple weeks ago and work on the walls of the building began last week. This week, plans are to complete the walls and roof. It is anticipated that LifeFlight will begin its operations out of Chillicothe in August.


C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley / 05 22 17

Site Work Begins for LifeFlight Eagle Base
'Eagle' eyes August completion date
By Catherine Stortz Ripley (C-T) 03/06/17

CAPTION: Site preparation has started for the new LifeFlight Eagle ambulance helicopter hangar that will be located near the entrance of Chillicothe Municipal Airport. Ground was broken as part of a formal ceremony in December. It is anticipated that the LifeFlight will begin its operations out of Chillicothe in August. C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

Site preparations are taking place for the new LifeFlight Eagle hangar at Chillicothe Municipal Airport, a relocation of the air ambulance from Trenton to Chillicothe. Dirt work began after the first of the year and the crews are now working on the base of the structure. Sewer connections will be laid and concrete poured within the next few weeks. The facility is expected to be completed and operational by August, weather dependent. It will have five bedrooms, a kitchen and a living area as well as work areas for the flight nurse, flight paramedic and pilot to do their paperwork. There also will be an enclosed hangar for housing the helicopter and performing routine maintenance on the helicopter. There will be storerooms for medical equipment and supplies as well as a tool room for the mechanic. The building component is modeled after LifeFlight Eagle hangars in Odessa and Clinton and is expected to arrive within the next few weeks. Unique to Chillicothe's hangar is the incorporation of a supply room that will double as a hardened storm shelter, said Matt Daugherty, director of business development for LifeFlight Eagle. "It is a special reinforced room and will provide the crew with a safe place to go," Daugherty said. "Rather than it being an add-on feature, it will double as usable space." An above-ground fuel tank for jet fuel will be located near the building. There also will be an outside helicopter pad. The overall project is estimated to cost around $1 million will be paid for through a long-term lease agreement. LifeFlight Eagle has and the city of Chillicothe have signed a contract for a long-term lease. The LifeFlight station will be operational year round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Daugherty said that it is LifeFlight's goal to be in the air within six minutes of getting the call.

CAPTION: An architectural rendering of the LifeFlight Eagle base being constructed at Chillicothe Municipal Airport.
This image shows the hangar door open with the helicopter positioned on the helipad.

City OKs Interfund Loan to Build LifeFlight Hangar
By CATHERINE STORTZ RIPLEY
December 12, 2016

Chillicothe City Council members on Monday approved a resolution authorizing capital improvement funds and interfund loans for the financing of the airport hangar project. The city will use $800,000 of reserve funds from different departments that are currently earning less than 1 percent interest and use those funds to construct the hangar for LifeFlight Eagle. The reserve funds will come from city's permanent street fund ($200,000), the hospital project fund ($300,000), and the fire department sales tax fund ($300,000). The current approximate balances of these funds are: $785,000 in the permanent street fund; $800,000 in the hospital fund, and $800,000 in the fire department tax fund. The city will pay back these funds at 2 percent interest over the term of five years, beginning April 1, 2018. The balance of the $1.1 million overall hangar construction cost will be paid for out of the city's capital improvement fund, which has a current balance of about $388,000. Approval of the interfund loans and financing was part of the council's regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall.

LifeFlight Hangar Groundbreaking
12/07/16

On Wednesday, December 7, 2016, city officials, Chillicothe Police and Chillicothe Fire departments, officials from Life Flight Eagle and Hedrick Medical Center St. Luke's, were all on hand for the official groundbreaking of the new LifeFlight hangar to be built at the Chillicothe Municipal Airport. After a quick outdoor ceremony in a brisk 30 degrees, the dedication was moved to the celebration hall at the Fast Lanes Bowling Alley.

CAPTION: City officials, Chillicothe Police and Chillicothe Fire departments, Officials from Life Flight Eagle and Hedricks Medical Center at St. Luke's, were all on hand for the official groundbreaking of the new LifeFlight hangar to be built at the Chillicothe Municipal Airport.


12/07/16 C-T Photo

Mayor Chuck Haney gave an opening statement focusing on the benefits of moving the Eagle to Chillicothe. Mayor Haney compared it to the benefits of having HMC St. Luke's in Chillicothe. City Administrator, Ike Holland, gave a project overview again citing the benefits to the city of Chillicothe. The hangar project will cost around $1.1 million dollars and will include a living quarters for staff and maintenance bay and helipad. The project is expected to be completed and operational by the summer of 2017.

CAPTION: The Chillicothe Fire Department/Chillicothe Police Department Honor Guard gave a Flag Presentation that was followed by an invocation delivered by Fire Department Chaplin, Bill Gutshall.

LifeFlight Hangar News Update
12/06/16 CT

In a regular council meeting session on the 28th of November, the Chillicothe City Council awarded the contract bid to Burman Construction of Ozark, Missouri, to build a new aircraft hangar at the city airport. This airport hangar will start construction this month with a completion date in the summer of 2017. The cost of the hangar project will be around $1.1 million dollars. This hangar will include a living quarters for staff, maintenance bay and helipad. Accessories such as a fueling station and tank, parking and new access road pavement were included in the project. A long term lease agreement with Lifeflight Eagle will pay back against the cost incurred by the City for the construction of the hangar.

Lifeflight Eagle is currently housed at the City of Trenton, Missouri, and has made arrangements to close this site and move to Chillicothe in 2017. Lifeflight Eagle is an emergency medical airlift service for the region and the surrounding area. With the new City hospital and partnership with Saint Luke's Health Group, this will further enhance the medical care and services provided in Chillicothe.

City OKs Bids for Hangar
By CATHERINE STORTZ RIPLEY 11/30/16

Chillicothe City Council members on Monday, November 28, 2016, approved the low bid for construction of a hangar at Chillicothe Municipal Airport to house a LifeFlight Eagle ambulance helicopter. Burman, of Ozark, Missouri, submitted the lowest of two bids and was chosen for the project. The company's base bid was at $1,098,850, compared to a base bid of $1,163,900 submitted by Irvinbilt, of Chillicothe. Construction of the hangar will be paid for through the city's capital improvement fund, as approved unanimously by the council on Monday. Interfund loans will be used and will be paid back with an interest rate of 2 percent, according to City Administrator Ike Holland. The city's agreement with LifeFlight Eagle calls for a 15-year lease with base rent at $2,500 per month for the first 60 months, then $2,750 per month for the second 60 months, and $3,025 for the final 60 months of the initial term of the lease. Optional lease extensions will be available in five-year increments. The hangar building will be a one-story structure and include an office, living space, and a hangar. Construction is expected to begin in December with the hope that it is completed as early as June, Holland stated. Councilman-at-Large David Moore and Councilman Paul Howard voted in favor of Burman's bid; while Councilmen Reed Dupy and Tom Douglas voted against the bid. Councilman Wayne Cunningham, who is associated with Irvinbilt, had left the room and did not participate in discussions or the vote. Because of the 2-2 vote, Mayor Chuck Haney was called upon to break the tie. Along with the approved option for an upgrade of siding to the building, Burman's bid came in at $1,103,800. Financing details are expected to be discussed further at the council's next meeting.

Capital improvement funds needed to build LifeFlight hangar
10 31 16

Bids to construct a hangar at Chillicothe Municipal Airport to house the LifeFlight Eagle ambulance helicopter came in significantly higher than anticipated, and the city hopes to use capital improvement sales tax funds to build the hangar. A public hearing has been set for 6 p.m. Monday, November 21, to consider using capital improvements funds. Two bids were submitted for the hangar: $1.16 million from Irvinbilt and $1.10 from Burman.

Earlier this year, the council approved a lease agreement with LifeFlight Eagle. The agreement, valued at $500,000, called for a 15-year lease with base rent at $2,500 per month for the first 60 months, then $2,750 for the second 60 months, and $3,025 for the final 60 months of the initial term of the lease. The building is anticipated to be one story and include an office, living space, and a hangar. The architect for the project is Williams, Spurgeon, Kuhl and Freshnock Architects, of Kansas City, a firm that specializes in airport facilities. Because of the amount of money that will be required to construct the hangar, a public hearing will need to be held before capital improvement funds can be used to build it. The hangar is being modeled after the LifeFlight hangar in Odessa, which cost $500,000 to build 10 years ago. City Administrator Ike Holland said that building was constructed by an individual on property that was not an airport. Holland said that eight contractors attended the city's pre-bid meeting regarding the hangar but that only two submitted bids.

City, LifeFlight Eagle Reach Hangar Lease Agreement
May. 5, 2016

Chillicothe City Council members unanimously approved a lease agreement with LifeFlight Eagle for a hangar to be constructed at the municipal airport. The council's action was taken during executive session April 25 and the agreement was finalized Monday and released to the public on Wednesday. The agreement calls for a 15-year lease with base rent at $2,500 per month for the first 60 months, then $2,750 per month for the second 60 months, and $3,025 for the final 60 months of the initial term of the lease. The building will be a one-story and include an office, living space, and a hangar. The building will be similar to the hangar building now leased by LifeFlight Eagle in Odessa, Missouri.

LifeFlight Test Flight
April 13, 2016 CT (submitted photo)

City of Chillicothe Councilman-at-Large David Moore, acting as a test patient for LifeFlight Eagle, was transferred from the Chillicothe Municipal airport to Hedrick Medical Center as part of a training session on Monday. LifeFlight Eagle conducted a total of three mock flights for three new staff members undergoing orientation.

Eagle Relocating to Chillicothe
March 23, 2016

LifeFlight Eagle has signed a letter of intent with the city of Chillicothe to relocate its north-central Missouri base to the Chillicothe airport. They will now finalize a lease agreement before breaking ground on a new hangar and crew quarters that the city of Chillicothe will build at the airport. LifeFlight Eagle CEO Roxanne Shanks said the move would likely take place sometime this fall. "We have received a tremendous amount of support from the Chillicothe community throughout our program's history, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of the community here," Shanks said. Shanks said that LifeFlight Eagle began looking for alternative locations after its base at the Trenton airport flooded in September 2014. "After the flood we began exploring options with the city of Trenton and surrounding areas to move our helicopter and crew to a location that would allow us to better fulfill our mission by eliminating the challenges we currently face with flooding and fog," Shanks said. "The Chillicothe airport emerged as the place that would enable us to best serve the needs of families in the entire north-central Missouri region."

The flood caused extensive damage at the airport and forced the non-profit organization out of its crew quarters for 10 weeks while repairs were made. "We couldn't allow that to happen again because of how negatively it impacted our ability to respond to the emergency needs of the community," said Jeff Willhite, LifeFlight Eagle's vice president of program operations. Willhite said that LifeFlight Eagle's original 10-year lease with the city of Trenton expired in June 2015. The program signed a one-year extension while it continued to identify alternative locations in Trenton and the surrounding area with more earnest. "We certainly didn't want to make a snap decision," Willhite said. "We wanted to evaluate all the options to ensure we put our program in the best place to respond to emergency calls when needed." He praised the Chillicothe city staff and Fire Chief Darrell Wright, all of whom he said spent a lot of time learning LifeFlight Eagle's needs and how the city could best meet them.

Trenton and the surrounding communities will see little negative impact from the program's move, said Matt Daugherty, director of business development at LifeFlight Eagle. "We want to reassure families in Trenton and the surrounding communities that we are not abandoning them. Our new location is a short 8-minute flight from Trenton," said Daugherty, who oversees LifeFlight Eagle's membership program and community relations. "We will continue to be involved in Trenton community events, and of course continue to serve the emergency transport needs of the community." Daugherty said the new base location in Chillicothe would enhance the program's response times to other communities in the region, including Carroll, Linn, Caldwell, Clinton and Chariton counties, among others. He said the program expects to be able to respond to more requests for emergency transport in the region because the new location would not suffer some of the same localized fog that LifeFlight Eagle experiences at its Trenton base location, and that it would provide the needed weather reporting information to quickly determine suitability for flight.

LifeFlight Eagle opened its base in Trenton in 2005. LifeFlight Eagle is a 501(c3) non-profit organization that provides life-saving helicopter transport for critically ill and injured patients in Kansas and Missouri communities surrounding Kansas City. Its roots date back to 1978, when Saint Joseph Hospital in Kansas City launched the Spirit of Saint Joseph LifeFlight program, which was the fifth civilian helicopter ambulance program in the country. The LifeFlight Eagle system now includes four helicopters based in Trenton, Odessa, Clinton and Harrisonville, Mo., as well as an additional helicopter dedicated to the Children's Mercy Critical Care Transport Team in Kansas City, which is specially designed and staffed to serve neonatal and pediatric patients. All of LifeFlight Eagle's bases are staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with a pilot, flight nurse and flight paramedic. Our aircraft are operated and maintained by PHI Air Medical, a partner that sets the bar for quality and safety in the air-medical industry.

LifeFlight Eagle to Consider New North Central Missouri Base Location

Excerpt City Council Meeting 02/29/16 - Chillicothe City Council members will have a public hearing to consider distribution of capital improvement sales tax funds at 6 p.m. Monday, March 7, in the council chambers at City Hall. Proposed items include an access road off of U.S. Highway 65 North for the proposed new Chillicothe R-2 school campus, structural repairs to the police station wall, and construction of a new airport hangar that would house the LifeFlight Eagle ambulance helicopter operations. Capital Improvement Sales Tax Fund money is generated though a half-cent city sales tax. Each year, the council conducts a public hearing as to how the funds should be used. The largest dollar amount item proposed for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which begins April 1, is construction of a new airport hangar at a maximum cost of $500,000 for LifeFlight Eagle. The air ambulance service is currently based in Trenton but has expressed a desire to relocate to Chillicothe.

February 10, 2016...

After more than 10 years based in Trenton, LifeFlight Eagle may fly to higher, drier ground. "During the past 16 months, we have been exploring options for a new facility that would help improve our ability to provide life-saving critical care transport to families in this region by overcoming some of the weather and flooding challenges we experience at our current location," said Roxanne Shanks, CEO of LifeFlight Eagle. Shanks said that the non-profit organization would consider a proposal from the city of Chillicothe to relocate its helicopter base and crew quarters to the Chillicothe airport. "Trenton has been an outstanding host for our program for more than a decade, and we look forward to continuing to serve this community and the entire region with critical care transport," Shanks said. "Unfortunately, our current base location at the Trenton airport is prone to both flooding and fog, which compromise our ability to respond to emergency requests." In September 2014, heavy rainstorms caused significant flooding at the airport. Several inches of water entered the hangar and living quarters there causing significant damage to the building. The base was uninhabitable for approximately 10 weeks while damages were repaired. During that time, LifeFlight Eagle's response times were significantly lengthened as the pilot and medical crews responded from nearby temporary quarters. While the 2014 flood is the only one in which water entered the hangar and living quarters, Willhite said floodwaters had covered the road leading to the airport several times in the past few years and that on multiple occasions the organization has had to move the aircraft away from the base to ensure the helicopter and crew did not become stranded there. He said the increasing incidence of localized fog at the airport was another significant challenge. "The airport sits at a very low elevation compared with its surroundings - the highways to the west and south and the lake to the east. It makes a perfect bowl where fog off of the lake settles and gets trapped. Wind doesn't blow it away like it would in most places, and it takes a lot longer for it to burn off in the morning there than other areas." That fog leads to the organization having to decline some requests for emergency transport. "Our aircraft operate under Federal Aviation Administration visual flight rules," said Joe Coons, LifeFlight Eagle's director of safety. "Because of safety concerns and the FAA rules, we can't take off or land when the fog precludes visibility. It can be frustrating, because there might not be any fog at Wright Memorial, sitting up on the hill just a mile or so away, but we're unable to respond to an emergency request because we can't lift off from the airport." Willhite said the proposed new base location in Chillicothe is a short 8-minute flight from Trenton and would have minimal impact to LifeFlight Eagle's response to Wright Memorial Hospital, among other locations. "We will work closely with the hospital, 9-1-1 dispatchers and with fire and EMS to revise early launch protocols and other things we can do to minimize the impact those extra few minutes might make," said Willhite. "Our goal is to seamlessly continue to provide critical-care transport services to the Trenton community and all of North-Central Missouri." Shanks said there was a lot to consider between now and when LifeFlight Eagle might make any final decisions about relocating. "No matter where we base, we will not abandon the Trenton community," Shanks said. "We've been flying critically ill and injured patients from Trenton since the late 1970s when our organization's roots were first planted. We've been a close part of the Trenton community since we first started talking about opening a base in north central Missouri back in 2003 and that won't change. We'll still be involved in community events, and of course we'll always be here to provide emergency service to patients in Trenton."

LifeFlight Eagle is a 501(c3) non-profit organization that provides life-saving helicopter transport for critically ill and injured patients in Kansas and Missouri communities surrounding Kansas City. Its roots date back to 1978, when Saint Joseph Hospital in Kansas City launched the Spirit of Saint Joseph LifeFlight program, which was the fifth civilian helicopter ambulance program in the country. The LifeFlight Eagle system includes four helicopters based in Trenton, Odessa, Clinton and Harrisonville, Mo., as well as an additional helicopter dedicated to the Children's Mercy Critical Care Transport Team in Kansas City, which is specially designed and staffed to serve neonatal and pediatric patients. All of LifeFlight Eagle's bases are staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with a pilot, flight nurse and flight paramedic. The organization has 55 flight crew members, along with 16 pilots and eight mechanics throughout its four bases. The aircraft are operated and maintained by PHI Air Medical. The four bases of LifeFlight Eagle transport approximately 1,300 patients annually per Matt Daugherty, director of business development. About half of the transports are from one of 10 smaller community hospitals in north central Missouri to larger hospitals so that patients can get the specialized treatment they need. The other half of patient transports are from on-scene accidents, such as highway wrecks and agriculture accidents. LifeFlight works with authorities to land at the scene of accidents or at any of the predesignated landing zones set up throughout the counties so that the helicopter can meet an ambulance.

Daugherty said that Trenton has been a fantastic host for LifeFlight Eagle but that a practical solution to the problems they experienced at the base didn't exist. He said that he is optimistic that something will be worked out to relocate to the Chillicothe airport. "I know that the city of Chillicothe has been working for a long time to make some of the expansions happen out at the airport so we are optimistic we can be part of that," Daugherty said. "It would be a great place for us to be." "We want to position ourselves in the best place so that when somebody needs to be transported, we're there for them," he said. "We'll be able to respond to more requests for emergency transports than what we are right now." Relocation could take place in summer. The transportation time from the Chillicothe airport to Wright Memorial Hospital is eight minutes, and Daugherty said efforts are being made to shorten that time. "We want to reassure the Trenton community that no matter where our base is, we will continue to serve them," he said. "We want to do what we can to minimize that eight minute gap from what they have been used to."

LifeFlight Puts New Helicopter in Service at Trenton Base
February 11, 2014

Submitted Photos

CAPTION: One of LifeFlight Eagle's new Trenton-based Bell 407GX helicopter, right, sits on a dolly at the downtown airport in Kansas City during training, while its Odessa-based aircraft sits in the background. LifeFlight Eagle has replaced its helicopters based in Harrisonville and Trenton with two new state-of-the-art helicopters. The new aircraft feature technology and safety upgrades, including a glass-cockpit and two-axis autopilot, among others.

LifeFlight Eagle has placed into service two new state-of-the-art Bell 407GX helicopters at its Harrisonville and Trenton bases. The new aircraft were purchased as part of the non-profit organization's fleet replacement program and reflect LifeFlight Eagle's ongoing commitment to the community to provide life-saving transport to critically ill and injured patients in Missouri and Kansas. From the outside, the aircraft look very similar to the 10-year-old Bell 407 helicopters they replace, but inside the changes are remarkable.

The most dramatic difference is in the pilot's cockpit. Gone are the array of analog dials, now replaced by two large, glass flat-panel displays and electronic controls for the aircrafts' systems. The pilot has a primary flight display in front of him, with a secondary display that can hold information like a moving map, airport information and engine monitoring instruments. "The Garmin G1000H avionics suite is a very dynamic tool," said Stu Buckingham, a pilot and business operations manager for LifeFlight Eagle's air operator, PHI Air Medical. "It enhances safety in a number of ways - most importantly, it assists the pilot in maintaining situational awareness through the twin screens. It displays things like converging air traffic, obstacles and terrain, and it has a terrain avoidance warning system to alert the pilot if the aircraft is approaching the ground unknowingly." "It also reduces pilot workload by presenting visual navigation and color-coded graphs of engine monitoring and aircraft performance. The pilot can take this information in at a glance - more quickly than with traditional gauges."

One of the new aircraft's most important safety upgrades is not very visible until it's needed. The helicopters feature a two-axis autopilot system, which allows the pilot to set the aircraft to automatically control altitude and heading. In addition to reducing pilot fatigue on long flights, the autopilot provides important aircraft capabilities if the pilot encounters unforecasted weather conditions. The helicopters have the ability to automatically level themselves with the autopilot system and climb to a safe altitude should the pilot lose visual reference to the ground.

Joe Coons, LifeFlight Eagle's Director of Safety, said it was important to note that the new aircraft's capabilities didn't mean LifeFlight Eagle would now fly in questionable weather or low visibility, but that they provide an additional margin of safety should the pilot inadvertently fly into those conditions. "Safety for our patients and our crews is at the core of everything we do," Coons said. "We're not going to accept a patient flight unless we have 100 percent certainty that we can safely deliver that patient to the hospital and the care they need."

LifeFlight Eagle CEO Roxanne Shanks said the investment in new technology and safety enhancements was a reflection of the organization's commitment to the communities it serves. "Going all the way back to LifeFlight Eagle's roots in 1978, we've had a close relationship with the community, and a great sense of responsibility to the community," Shanks said. "As a non-profit organization, it's more than patient flights for us. It's about enhancing the communities we serve through partnership with EMS agencies, fire departments and hospitals, through education and by enhancing the quality and availability of emergency medical services for the people in these communities." "These new aircraft are simply an extension of these core values. They will help ensure that we are able to continue to provide safe, rapid transport and exceptional clinical care to critically ill and injured patients in these communities for years to come." "We couldn't provide this service without the support of the community, though, and for that we are very grateful," Shanks said. "The donations we receive and the support provided through our membership program are invaluable."

LifeFlight Eagle is a 501c3 non-profit organization that provides life-saving helicopter transport to critically ill and injured patients from communities within a 150-mile radius of Kansas City. It provides two Bell 407GX and two Bell 407 helicopters from bases in Trenton, Harrisonville, Odessa and Clinton, Mo. It also owns a larger Eurocopter EC-145 helicopter, which is dedicated to the Children's Mercy Critical Care Transport Team. That aircraft is also equipped with a glass cockpit and fully integrated autopilot, and is capable of flying under Instrument Flight Rules. All LifeFlight Eagle helicopters are operated and maintained by PHI Air Medical.

CAPTION: This photo shows LifeFlight Eagle's new Trenton-based aircraft, left, and Harrisonville-based aircraft during final assembly and customization at Bell Helicopters service facility in Piney Flats, TN.

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