In a press release by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service on Thursday, the service detailed the ditching of a Bell 205 at approximately 4pm. The Helicopter was detailed as a contract helicopter working for the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS.)
AerialFire has learned that the helicopter belongs to Fleet helicopters, based in Armidale, New South Wales. The helicopter ditched into a dam on the Far South Coast of NSW.
The waterbombing aircraft, tasked to the Clyde Mountain fire, ditched into the Ben Boyd Reservoir in the Ben Boyd National Park at Edrom, in the Bega Valley Shire. The pilot was reported safe after the ditching, managing to swim to shore after the aircraft impacted the water.
Due to the dam the helicopter ditched into being a water source for nearby towns, the Australian Navy was then tasked to recover the aircraft from the dam to minimize environmental damage. The recovery was completed over the weekend as Australian Navy divers and heavy recovery crews worked to first right the aircraft and then float it to the surface.
The helicopter, VH-ONZ, painted in distinctive pink paint as a tribute to breast cancer, was recovered with what appeared to be a small amount of skin wrinkling damage aft of the front skid, a testament to the pilot’s skill in getting the aircraft down safely with minimal damage other than that caused by water damage.
Watch the Royal Australian Navy video of the recovery below