Helicopters Rescue Fifth Graders from Colorado Nature Center

** Courtesy of The National Guard**

With the confirmed death toll now standing at eight from Colorado flooding, a large group of Boulder-area parents are breathing easier today. A group of 85 fifth-grade students and their 14 adult chaperons were airlifted from a nature center where they had been stranded on a weekend field trip. Seven helicopters from the Colorado National Guard plucked the group from a mountainside and airlifted them to safety. Hundreds are still missing throughout the state as helicopters continue to search for survivors in need of assistance.

The students are from Fireside Elementary School in Louisville, Colorado, a Boulder suburb. They were visiting the Cal-Wood Education Center when flood waters made the mountain road impassable, according to officials of the school district. The group was delivered from the mountain site to the Boulder Municipal Airport where they boarded buses to be reunited with their overjoyed parents, a scene broadcasts on local news stations.

Major Earl Brown, deputy public affairs officer for the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, told NBC News four Sikorsky Blackhawks were among the seven helicopters the unit sent to rescue the students. Members of the National Guard unit were "overjoyed" to be able to help.

Even the politicians chipped in. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was surveying flood damage from a helicopter with a congressional group including Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo). The helicopter was over the Colorado foothills, when, as the governor said, "Congressman Gardner, clearly with the best eyes of any of us, saw some civilians waving, trying to get rescued." The helicopter swooped in to pick them up.

In all, more than 120 flood victims have been rescued by units of the Colorado National Guard. Helicopters from the 4th also assisted in fighting wildfires in the area last June. "We went from drought to deluge," said Brown.

Or check out the video below of the aerial evacuation.

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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