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Pilot says stress, focus; crucial in preventing crashes

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) - A helicopter pilot says stress management and keeping a clear head are crucial to prevent an accident.

Tuesday, a University of Dubuque aviation student was injured in a helicopter crash in Independence. The Stacey Ortman, spokesperson for the school, issued the following statement Wednesday:

"We can confirm that one of our helicopters and a student pilot were involved in an incident on Tuesday, Jan. 21, in Independence, Iowa. The student received non-life-threatening injuries and is being treated for those injuries. Our thoughts are with the student and the student’s family. A counselor will be at the Ed Babka Aviation Learning Center to assist our students, flight instructors, and staff. The safety of our students and flight instructors is at the forefront of our aviation program. We are cooperating with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board as they review the incident."

Stacey Ortman, Spokesperson, University of Dubuque

George Gomez, licensed pilot for HMC Helicopter Service, said every decision counts when operating an aircraft. He said pilots have to remain focused to avoid disaster.

"There are human characteristics that can come, like complacency, and different attitudes that you have to guard against," said Gomez. "So not only external forces but also internal pressures. Like stress, physical limitations, sickness can all come into factor of a pilot or a driver or almost anybody."

On top of staying focused, Gomez said pilots must be able to make quick decisions in the event of weather or malfunction.

"There could be other factors like the nature of the flight," said Gomez. "But you know, you never want too many external pressures forcing a pilot to go beyond his limits or into higher risk levels."

Ashley Scott

Reporter, Dubuque

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