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Sheriff's helicopter did not have engine failure

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 15, 2001

INVERNESS -- A Citrus County sheriff's helicopter that made an emergency landing on a Homosassa street did not have an engine failure, as was earlier thought.

The malfunction of a part not critical to flying caused the craft's "engine out" light to flash on, prompting the landing Dec. 7. The engine was operating normally, said a Sheriff's Office statement.

Deputies Scott Condon and William Naylor were on a routine patrol over Homosassa about 11 p.m. Dec. 7 when the light came on. Condon piloted the Hughes OH6 chopper to a landing in the 7200 block of Grover Cleveland Boulevard.

Neither deputy was injured and the helicopter was not damaged.

According to Sheriff's spokeswoman Ronda Hemminger Evan, the pilot could have performed a cross check of the other instruments to determine whether the engine had truly failed, but time and altitude didn't permit.

"A pilot has to respond extremely quickly in a situation like that," Evan said. "He has only a few seconds to make a decision."

The helicopter, which the Sheriff's Office has owned since 1994, has been repaired and is back in service.

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