Helicopter-heroes fly in to save dozens of stranded residents - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Helicopter-heroes fly in to save dozens of stranded residents

SABLE pilots rescued 29 people and three dogs during the Pender County floods. (Source:WECT) SABLE pilots rescued 29 people and three dogs during the Pender County floods. (Source:WECT)

Dozens of people are safe from floodwaters in Pender County after helicopter pilots flew in to rescue them.

Pilots with SABLE, helicopters shared between the Wilmington Police Department, Leland Police Department, New Hanover County Sheriff's Office and the Pender County Sheriff Department, said they made the decision when the rivers continued to rise. They had little experience with rescues, but decided to head in anyway.

"There was no hesitation, we just knew we had to do it," pilot John Gordon said.

In all, they rescued 29 people, including toddlers and infants, and three dogs.

"I never thought I would have a baby in the back of the the helicopter, much less a law enforcement helicopter," Gordon exclaimed. "We strapped a car seat right into the harness."

While showing the helicopter, Gordon explained the backseat can comfortably fit one to two people. During the rescues, they threw out most of the equipment to make room. At one point, Gordon said he sat in an intersection and waited, so they could fit as many people as possible into the aircraft.

"It was difficult to see because it's your friends and family and people you know," pilot Terry Mullis said. "As an aviator, I've seen a lot of stuff over the years, and this is at the top of the list."

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