I was minding my own business (for once), heading out of town Saturday afternoon.
My phone “bings.” “A helicopter crashed into the lagoon by the airport,” says the message. That item took me out of my reverie and I drove with more focus to the airport, asking my informant some questions as I went along.
“It’s by the park before you get to the airport.”
Then: “The pilot is from PNG, he was the only one on board. He is unhurt.”
A few minutes pass by and we see an ambulance followed by a police truck, no flashing lights heading back to town.
The helicopter is from one of the purse seiners anchored in Majuro lagoon for transshipment.
I get to Katoj Park, get out, climb up the stairs to the top of the rock seawall and scan the lagoon from east to west: No helicopter. I look again. Nope. It must have sunk. I get back in my truck, head for Ajeltake, but as I get by the airport, I see a Ports Authority truck parked on the side. I pull in, roll down the window. The Ports vehicle window comes down and its Ports Director James Bing. He confirms the report and location of the crash, by Katoj Park.
That’s it for the helicopter hunt, or so I thought.
Monday, MIMRA Director Glen Joseph rings: “MALGov Councilman Randy Jack woke up this morning, got his coffee, looked out his window and saw a helicopter on the reef.” Randy rang his brother, Mayor Ladie Jack, who range Glen. Glen headed out to Woja, took photos of the downed chopper on the reef, supplied same to the Journal.
Conclusion one: Helicopter arrival in Woja two days after crash by airport confirms lagoon drift pattern. Conclusion two: Helicopter pilot is lucky. Choppers go down, it’s usually lights out for everyone on board. Conclusion three: No one will rehabilitate this particular helicopter. It’s history, except maybe appearing in a Six9Too Productions music video or a Microwave Films Batmon movie.