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New chopper for search and rescues

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

A state of the art former Alabama police helicopter will boost Wairarapa’s search and rescue capability next month.

Amalgamated Helicopters, Carterton, have been working on the acquisition for almost a year, with the multi-million dollar McDonnell Douglas 600N aircraft taking to Wairarapa skies at the end of September.

Amalgamated Helicopters co-director and chief pilot Jason Diedrichs said with the machine, the business would be targeting search and rescue a little bit more, alongside pursuing commercial work.

“I think it could well be life-saving as it’s a very fast helicopter.

“It’ll be one of the fastest in the country, so in terms of responding to emergency situations, particularly out to sea, it’ll be very capable.”

Amalgamated Helicopters have been involved in quite a few missions of late, including the tracking down of a missing tramper in the snow-covered Tararua Range earlier this month.

“We seem to be getting more involved with missions, so it’ll just be another string to our bow really to be able to help the community.

“Obviously it’ll be here to do commercial work too, but when the balloon goes up, we’ll be able to assist and it will give us a bit more capability in helping.”

The MD600N was formerly used by the Dale County Sheriff’s Department in Alabama.

“It’s really cool because it will be joining forces with one of our other helicopters from the States as well which used to be the Orange County Sheriff’s helicopter in California,” Mr Diedrichs said.

“So we’ve got two ex-sheriff’s ones”.

The MD600N has a passenger capacity of seven plus the pilot, a Rolls Royce C47 engine, and state of the art electronic FADEC and YSAS systems.

There is only one other aircraft of this type working in New Zealand, but that machine is based in the South Island.

Amalgamated Helicopters co-director Sally Diedrichs said the acquisition of the helicopter was a “huge undertaking”, with extensive research needed to decide what the business would grow into.

“Clearly this is a big investment for our company but it is also a very important addition to our region, increasing our ability to respond to emergencies like rural fires.”


  1. Hey Jason,
    Wish you well with the venture. You are a No. 1 chopper pilot in my books. I will always remember your expertise in the building of Powell Hut. Second to non. (Must go up and knock that dent out of the ridge cap sometime).

    Regards, David Bull

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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