Features — 11 August 2015 — by Albert J. Ciego
Helicopter found abandoned in Orange Walk District

BLUE CREEK, Orange Walk District, Fri. Aug. 7, 2015–A Bell 407 helicopter is now in the possession of the Belize Defence Force (BDF) Air Wing headquarters in Ladyville, as police continue to investigate to identify the origin and owners on the aircraft, and find out how it came to Belize.

The aircraft was found abandoned on a feeder road in the Blue Creek, San Felipe Village, area in the Orange Walk District by police who were conducting an anti-drug operation in the area yesterday.

Police said that while they were engaged in the operation, they were alerted that a helicopter was circling in the area of Blue Creek and San Felipe, and they went to the area, but by the time they got there, the helicopter had already landed on a feeder road in Blue Creek, but the aircraft had been abandoned after landing. It was a grey helicopter with dark tinted windows, with registration numbers N607AZ.

Police immediately secured the aircraft and began searching for the pilot and passengers, but no one was found. The pilot and crew had disappeared.

The BDF were alerted and two of their pilots were taken to the aircraft, which they flew to the BDF Air Wing, where it is now being kept, under guard.

Police said that they found no evidence that the helicopter was transporting drugs, and suspect that it was carrying about 4 passengers. On-board, police said, they found several blue plastic containers with fuel to increase the distance of travel for the helicopter. Seats had been taken out and replaced by fuel containers so that the pilot could refuel without having to land.

The Commandant of the Belize Defence Force, Brigadier General David Jones, said that the aircraft had a fuel pump apart from the pump in the tank, which pumped the extra fuel into the helicopter’s tank.

The Commandant said that he has been informed that the numbers on the aircraft to identify its origin were fake.

Police, however, believe that due to the close proximity of the Belize/Mexico border to the area where the aircraft was found, that the pilot and/or passengers may have escaped from the country into Mexico.

The aircraft is reported to be in prime working condition. A check on the Bell Helicopter website reveals that this model of helicopters, the Bell 407, is made in the United States and is sold at a price of $2.6 million.

The Bell 407 began to be manufactured in 1995 and it has a seating capacity for 7 people. Its range of travel is 323 nautical miles.

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