The Airwolf History

Airwolf - The Helicopter

A Lady of Hollywood in Germany…The Crash of the "Airwolf" HelicopterNear Halbeswig, Germany on June 6th, 1992.

 A Machine as a Muse...The design of the Bell 222 helicopter was revolutionary to the world of rotary wing aircraft.  With a light alloy structure, and a fuselage built around a large cabin, it could seat two pilots and five or six passengers.  The large main rotor with two wide blades were made of steel with a honeycomb core, and the blades were held to the rotor hub by standard Bell elastomeric bearings.  The tail rotor is also metal with two blades. A pair of 650 horsepower Lycoming LTS-101 engines powered the copter, and were mounted side-by-side above the fuselage and have integral particle separators. The fuel is contained in three tanks, one in the fuselage and two in the sponsons into which the main landing gear members retract.  Such a modern aircraft called for celebration.  And television producer Donald P. Bellisario found inspiration in its design.  In the mid-80s, a television series was developed with an unusual concept – having a helicopter be the star. In the vein of Knight Rider and Blue Thunder, Bellisario chose the Bell 222. 

Bell 222

The Bell 222 used in the series, registered as N3176S, was one of the last “222A” helicopters that Bell manufactured before the release of the 222B model. Nevertheless, the owner of 76S – JetCopters Incorporated of Van Nuys, California – modified the chopper as if it were equipped with concealable machine guns, missiles, and an array of other weaponry and improvements. 

Airwolf TV Series

The series ran for 55 episodes (the first being a two-hour TV movie) on the CBS network in the United States in 1984–1986 and an additional 24 episodes, with a new cast and production company, on the USA Network, in 1987, a total of 79 episodes, and enjoyed moderate success. At the conclusion of the series' run, the copter was repainted, its body kit modifications removed and sold, and the copter sold to the German helicopter charter company, Hubschrauber-Sonder-Dienst (as known as HSD Luftrettung and Blue Helicopter Alliance) in June of 1987, and assigned the registration number D-HHSD. 

Angel of Mercy

Airwolf: Rescuing a Little Girl

On the afternoon of Saturday, June 6th, 1992, D-HHSD was flying a little girl suffering from heavy burns on a mercy mission from Berlin to the Cologne University Burns Unit in Köln. After safely delivering the girl, the helicopter and its crew of three was returning to Berlin when they encountered unexpected weather. With the visibility reduced to nearly 100 feet due to fog amidst a brewing thunderstorm, the copter's 42 year old pilot must have struggled to navigate the wooded German mountainsides. 

The Unexpected

"Unfortunately, at 2:30 in the afternoon, at a speed of nearly 100 miles an hour, the helicopter impacted near a rock quarry near Halbeswig. Its rotor blades clipped the tops of several tree, and then struck the mountainside. A nearby farmer heard, during his work, a big bang, and alerted emergency services. But, given the weather conditions, it took about an hour before the rescuers could find the wreck site. When they arrived, they found the helicopter was broken in half in the middle, the engine destroyed, and the 3 occupants, including a 38 year old doctor and his 31 year old assistant, all had been killed in the impact. 

The forested area around the crash site was locked down for nearly 7 hours. The fire department had to close several roads near the site because not enough police. The police Dortmund and the Federal Air Transport Authority Braunschweig started their investigation on late afternoon, which continued into the following day. Afterwards, the crash site was released the helicopter's owners, who salvaged the wreck.  However, due to the impassable terrain, some parts of the helicopter could only be snug out by air.   Three days after the crash, the Federal Air Transport Authority concluded that human error was the cause of the crash."  - http://www.check-six.com/Crash_Sites/Airwolf-DHHSD.htm

Special Note:  In the United States, the NTSB reports: There were 41 people killed in 11 EMS helicopter accidents between December 2007 and February 2010, according to an NTSB report.

It said the pressure that crews face to respond quickly during difficult flight conditions, such as darkness or bad weather, has led to increased fatal accidents."What you see happen a lot is, you have aircraft that are being used in very difficult conditions -- a lot of times in the middle of the night, weather is bad and things like that -- and you push them into sort of dangerous situations, and crashes occur," said Kent Krause, a Dallas aviation attorney.

Source: NTSB Team Begins CareFlite Probe | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/CareFlite-Chopper-Crashes-Two-Killed-FAA-95444049.html#ixzz4cU6ooXvw"

Historical Summary

While operating as an air ambulance the helicopter crashed in fog on June 6, 1992, killing all three of its occupants. 

Newspaper Translation

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Air Ambulance (Airwolf) Crashes in Storm

(ole) The wreckage on the mountain nearby Halbeswig is visible even from a long distance. Scattered parts and a burnt engine lay in between fir forests and a quarry. On Saturday around 2:30 pm  a rescue helicopter of the type Bell 222 SP crashed there. A farmer heard a loud noise during his work, then the rotor blades of the helicopter became silent. All three passengers died when they crashed against the 620 meters tall mountain “Auf der Burg” (“At the castle”.) The police and fire department were looking for the crash site in the impassable area for nearly an hour. At the scene of the accident they were expected by a horrible scene. The helicopter broke in the middle and it’s engine was nearly completely burnt. The 42 year old pilot, the 31 year old paramedic and the 38 year old emergency doctor were instantly dead. The team was on their return flight from a rescue mission. 


HELICOPTER CRASHES IN A STORM

 

All three passengers instantly dead - Reason: Human error - The team was on their way back to Berlin  


Picture caption: Only debris is left behind of the rescue helicopter, which crashed on Saturday Afternoon in the woodland near Halbeswig. In misty conditions and during a storm the pilot crashed with his machine against the mountain “Auf der Burg”. All three passengers died in this accident.


By Oliver Eickhoff

Translated by Virginia Gancarczyk


Bestwig. The Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (“Federal Aviation Office”) in Brunswick is assuming human error to be the cause of the crash. Due to examinations can a  technical failure be excluded, announces the authority on request of the WP. The machine crashed with a speed of 150 kilometers per hour in a 70° angle in front of the mountain. 


According to the Kriminalpolizei (“criminal police”) Dortmund the pilot of the crashed aircraft was considered to be an experienced man. Possibly him and his team were surprised by a heavy storm in the Sauerland, which was raging during the time of the crash. At the same time fog was rising. The view was, according to the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt, only 30 meters. 


  On Saturday the woods around the scene of the accident were shut of for nearly seven hours. Especially the fire department had to close off the ways, because there weren’t enough police forces available. The Kriminalpolizei Dortmund and the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt Brunswick picked up their investigations in the late afternoon. The investigations still lasted on the next day. The area was released again on Sunday noon. 


    The helicopter belonged to a private company, which wants to make the salvage in the next days, depending on the weather. Because of the impassable area, some of the remains of the helicopter can only be salvaged from the air. 

What did Airwolf look like in Germany as an Air Amublance?

The original Airwolf was sold to germany and was flown by HSD Luftrettung (Airrescue). This Bell 222 is also from HSD Luftrettung, but a different one. But now everyone can see, how Airwolf looks like when it flew over Germany in the 90s as an ambulance heilcopter. 

Airwolf Air Ambulances

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Airwolf Air Ambulances

There are many medical organizations that use Bell 222 helicopters as Medical Air Ambulances in the world.  One of them is Careflite.  

CareFlite's flagship is its helicopter service. Established in 1979 with one helicopter shared between two hospitals, CareFlite now operates 6 helicopter bases in Texas.   Read More

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In Honor of all EMS men and women. . .

This website was created to honor all EMS men and women who are dedicated to saving lives (ground and air ambulances, fire dept. including law enforcement officers). 

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In Memory Of. . .

This website was also created in memory of all the EMS men and women that have died in the line of duty, including Airwolf and its crew.  A Tribute to Airwolf - an awesome helicopter that was transformed into an Air Ambulance in Germany which saved many lives. R.I.P. Airwolf and its crew.   

The crash scene on your left is a Careflite helicopter that crashed due to engine problems.  Thankfully, everyone on board survived with minor injuries.   Read More.   For more information about Air Ambulance Crashes, click here: Air Ambulance Crashes.

Careflite In Action

 Lewisville (TX) Fire Department airlifting a patient using Careflite. 

Airwolf Air Ambulances

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