Budget cuts could cost Alaska State Troopers a helicopter

ANCHORAGE — Alaska State Troopers have already grounded one of their two search and rescue helicopters due to budget cuts, and officials say if changes aren’t made they may not be able to afford the other chopper.

The Fairbanks-based helicopter Helo 2 has been grounded indefinitely since July, and currently troopers can only afford to keep the Anchorage-based Helo 3 in use through June 2016, KTVA-TV reported.

“Overall it’s about $250,000 per year for a helicopter to operate in Fairbanks,” said Alaska Wildlife Trooper Maj. Bernard Chastain.

Troopers have had to contract with outside companies for search and rescue missions both because of bad weather and because of the high cost of using a helicopter.

Keith Essex with Alpine Air said their helicopter is similar to the ones troopers use, but that their operators don’t have the same emergency training and experience.

“If they do need our help more often, we’re here to help,” he said.

Search and Rescue coordinator Lt. Steve Adams said despite the costs, rescue missions will still be accepted, though outside companies can sometimes cost more money and take more time.

“There’s been times where we cannot effect the search and rescue with our own resources, and we’ve had to ask for assistance or a charter aircraft, but we don’t turn down search and rescue,” Adams said.

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Aug. 14

Here’s what to expect this week.

Supporters of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski wait for an opportunity to talk to her at her newly Juneau campaign headquarters Thursday evening at Kootznoowoo Plaza. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Murkowski opens up at Juneau HQ debut

Senator chats with supporters about U.S. vs. Belgium voting, moose chili and Project Veritas

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

U.S. Senate candidate Shoshana Gungurstein stars in a campaign sign within view of the Alaska governor’s mansion. Gungurstein, an independent, got exposure this week for being a Hollywood actress under a different last name after questions about her past went unanswered throughout the campaign. She is one of 19 candidates seeking to be among the four selected in next Tuesday’s primary to compete in the November general election. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Senate candidate sheds more light on background

Shoshana Gungurstein responds at length to recent report on past film career.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Drug arrest made in Skagway

Police say a suspicious package was intercepted.

This late-April photo shows a damaged sticker on a door at Thunder Mountain High School reminding people to social distance and wear masks inside the building. Masks will not be required in school buildings this year. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
No mandatory masks or COVID-19 tests for new school year

No mandatory masks or COVID-19 tests for new school year

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Friday Aug. 12, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

From left, Kelsey Dean, watershed scientist with the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition, and Kaagwaan Eesh Manuel Rose-Bell of Keex’ Kwáan watch as crew members set up tools to drag a log into place. Healthy salmon habitat requires woody debris, typically provided by falling branches and trees, which helps create deep salmon pools and varied stream structure. (Courtesy Photos / Mary Catharine Martin)
 
The SalmonState: Bringing the sockeye home

Klawock Indigenous Stewards and partners are working to a once prolific sockeye salmon run.

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read