Saturday evening, Burbank police officer Jason Embleton who was piloting the Police Departments McDonald Douglas 500 Notar Helicopter, was working with Glendale Police officer Pat Hamblin who was the Tactical Flight Officer(TFO) at the time. The helicopter, known as Air One, came on the main police dispatch channel to tell the dispatchers that they were just forced to land on a soccer field near where the I-5 and 134 freeways meet. They immediately told the dispatchers that they were okay and the landing was precautionary.
Both Burbank and Glendale police departments dispatched a patrol unit to assist the two-man crew if it was needed. The Burbank unit that was assigned was the pilot’s twin brother Patrol Sergeant John Embleton.
Even before the announcement to the police dispatchers, the pilot attempted to inform the Hollywood Burbank Tower that they had a problem and were going to set down on the field so that air controllers would not immediately worry if they saw the airship disappear from their radar.
It turned out that a warning light started to flicker on the helicopter’s panel and then stayed lit. Once they saw that, Pilot Embelton immediately decided to land so as not to risk anything. The warning light is a sensor detecting loose metal fragments in the turbine engine.
Pilots have identified in advance many possible emergency landing sites, such as school athletic fields, that they could use. They were in proximity to the fields where they landed at the time. The field they chose was not in use at the time, other fields were in use, and the lights were on so they could see where they were putting it down.
Pasadena Police Helicopter PD-1 was airborne and heard the call. They flew over and made radio contact to confirm both pilot and TFO were safe and okay. Minutes later, an LAPD Airship made a trip over as the soccer fields are property of The city of Los Angeles.
After landing and securing the ship, the department’s helicopter mechanic was called out. It was decided that the best course of action was to put the Notar helicopter on a flatbed tow truck and drive it via city streets back to the hanger located at the Hollywood Burbank Airport for repairs.
Once the mechanic was on the scene, they removed the rotor blades. They awaited a Burbank Police Tow from Girard and Peterson, who dispatched a heavy-duty flatbed and a special extra heavy-duty tow rig with crane capabilities to lift the 3000-pound Notar onto the flatbed.
There were no injuries, and the helicopter will be returned to service shortly after repairs have been completed.
UPDATE, EDITOR’S NOTE: The helicopter that is pictured here and in use by Burbank/Glendale is a McDonald Douglas Notar Helicopter (Notail Rotar), the MD 500D Helicopter does in fact have a tail rotor. We apologize for the incorrect identification.