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St. Marys Airport acknowledged for aiding military helicopter

November 30, 2011

St. Marys Municipal Airport Manager Alan McPherson displays a hand-drawn picture of a helicopter that he received from the crew of a National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter he delivered fuel to last December after the crew had to make an emergency landing in Emporium. Photo by Becky Polaski

Some say no good deed goes unnoticed, and this recently proved to be true for St. Marys Municipal Airport Manager Alan McPherson.
Almost a year ago, in early December 2010, McPherson received a call from the Pennsylvania State Police regarding a National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that was stranded in Emporium after running low on fuel during a snow storm. The helicopter had been on its way from Port Allegany back to Fort Indiantown Gap.
"They ran low on fuel and had to make an emergency landing in the tennis courts down at the school in Emporium," McPherson said.
In need of fuel, the call went out asking several area airports to provide assistance.
"Bradford has a fuel truck. They wouldn't go down and help them. DuBois wouldn't help them either. They have a fuel truck. We don't have a fuel truck," McPherson said.
Instead, McPherson came up with another way to transport fuel to the crew.
"I talked to the crew chief and said, 'I've got a couple of 55-gallon drums. I can fill them full of jet fuel and I'll put them in the back of my truck and bring them down there.' So I did that. I put them in the back of my truck so that I didn't have to load them later, filled them up, took a hand pump down there, backed up to the helicopter and used the hand pump to fill them up," McPherson said.
After spending the night in the area, the crew flew the helicopter to the St. Marys Municipal Airport the next day to top off before returning to Fort Indiantown Gap.
"They asked what they could do for us. I turned around and said 'I don't know, maybe write a letter to the city saying we helped you out.' We're an airport. We're always on the verge of no money and closing," McPherson said. "That was the end of it. I didn't hear anything from it."
That all changed recently when McPherson received a package in the mail that was sent by the crew to express their appreciation for his efforts to bring them fuel.
Included was a letter from Captain Matthew Cassidy that read, "Last December I was part of a UH-60 National Guard helicopter air crew that got stranded for a night with our helicopter parked at the tennis courts in Emporium while low on fuel. Because staff members from your airport delivered fuel to us in Emporium, we were able to fly to your airport the very next day, refuel, and fly back safely to Fort Indiantown Gap. On behalf of me, my air crew and Pennsylvania Air National Guard, we have sent these gifts to express our gratitude for your hospitality."

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