Helicopter Pilot Faces Jail Time for Rescue

New Zealand helicopter pilot flew on a suspended license.

Robinson R44

Robinson R44

Robinson R44 file photoRobinson Helicopter

A helicopter pilot is facing possible jail time for rescuing an injured hunter in New Zealand back in 2014. Dave Armstrong, Kaikoura Helicopters director and pilot, performed the search and rescue mission while his license was suspended for a medical issue, according to a report by stuff.co.nz.

The hunter, identified as Scott Lee, fell in a remote bush area north of Kaikoura, New Zealand, and broke his femur. Armstrong was the second attempt at a rescue after the first helicopter had to turn back due to low fuel. It was reported Armstrong was on the flight as a supervisor but had to take the controls when his copilot struggled to maneuver their Robinson R44 into position to drop in a doctor and the rest of the SAR team.

"He's done a heroic act in my eyes. If anything, he deserves a medal for what he's done," Lee said. "He's a hero."

According to the Civil Aviation Act, pilots can breach the law in life-or-death emergencies but only if they are lawfully entitled to fly. Armstrong will appear in court on October 16.

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