Chopper’s Emergency Landing Was Second One This Year

The six-man recovery crew with the downed Dolphin.

The U.S. Coast Guard MH-65C Dolphin helicopter that made an emergency landing on Washington Island while on its way to a search and rescue mission in Ashland, Wis., on Sunday, March 2, was involved in another emergency landing while on a training flight between its home station in Traverse City and Lansing, Mich., on Jan. 21.

The Dolphin is loaded aboard the Arni J. Richter on March 3.

There were no injuries among the four flight crew members during either of the emergency landings, but the helicopter had to be transported back to Traverse City both times on the back of a trailer.

On March 4 the Dolphin aboard a flatbed trailer makes its way through Baileys Harbor on its way to its home station in Traverse City, Mich.

The Coast Guard chose the French-made Aerospatiale SA366G1 Dauphin as its new short-range recovery air-sea rescue helicopter in 1979. The French engines were replaced with American-made Lycoming LTS101 power plants and the chopper was renamed Dolphin.

The Dolphin normally carries a crew of four:  pilot, copilot, flight mechanic and rescue swimmer. The crew that landed on Washington Island was Aircraft Commander Lt. Chris Breuer, co-pilot Jim Okorn, flight mechanic Matt Lussier and rescue swimmer Tom McArthur.

They returned to their base in Traverse City and a six-member recovery team arrived on Washington Island Monday morning to recover the helicopter. Late that afternoon, the chopper was loaded onto the Washington Island Ferry Line’s Arni J. Richter. The craft was stored overnight at Sister Bay Yacht Works and resumed its journey on a trailer back to Michigan Tuesday morning.

Richard Purinton, president of the Washington Island Ferry Line, wrote an excellent account of the emergency landing in front of the home of Island residents Jim and Janet Wilson on his blog Ferry Cabin News, found at