By Jack Johnson – July 02, 2012
When coming in from Lubbock with the grandson after a full day of fun we saw the helicopter landing 5 miles away as we drove into town. We had thought it might be a medical emergency helicopter at first, but much to our surprise it was a Navy helicopter — and a gigantic one at that!
As the photo to the right shows, it was a big helicopter from an aircraft carrier. Two of them were traveling from Virginia to California yesterday when one had to make an emergency landing next to Quitaque’s southern-most street, Russell Street, in a field just 200′ or 300′ from the Quitaque city limits sign.
Apparently they had a computer chip problem and hydraulic leak. The second helicopter did not land, but proceeded on to Lubbock.
There was a traffic jam on Russell Street. It seemed that out of Quitaque’s population of 411, everyone must have had a friend visiting from out of town. There was a crowd who came to see what was happening.
The Navy Vanguard HM14 helicopter is used on aircraft carriers for mine countermeasures. It had a crew of about 10 and they got out and visited with the crowd. They borrowed a large plastic barrel and some tools and proceeded to fix the hydraulic leak. After about two hours we went back downtown to find them finishing up with a small crowd around. The boys and I went out to the helicopter and took pictures with one of the crew. The back of the helicopter and the side door were open, so we stood on the outside and looked in. We waited around about 20 minutes while Owen, our middle grandson, got a great 10 minute video of the start up and take off of the helicopter as it went on its way to Lubbock for repairs. It really topped of an already big day for the boys, their first full day in Quitaque.