Home Christian News Alone in the Sky, Pilot and Fiancee Save 17 in Tennessee Floods

Alone in the Sky, Pilot and Fiancee Save 17 in Tennessee Floods

At one point, he spotted four people on the ledge of a roof of a farm supply store where he was able to set down one skid, making three different trips to pick them all up. One was a woman who said she had watched her husband get swept away and had become separated from her daughter, who was on the roof of a nearby gas station. Boyers touched down and rescued the daughter too.

The rescues of four of those people were caught on video by Jeani Rice-Cranford, who lives on a nearby hilltop and helped shelter the victims in her home afterward. “I’ve never seen anything like that,” Rice-Cranford said. “Not in real life.”

Rice-Cranford and others had been lined up along the roadside — helplessly watching and listening to the screams — for more than two hours when Boyers showed up. During the rescue “there was a gust of wind, and the helicopter kind of shifted,” Rice-Cranford said. “We all just held our breath. We were just watching with our mouths open, hoping and praying that he would be able to get them.”

That rescue stands out in Among’s mind. They got the mother first, “then we got the daughter and they reunited on the ground,” she said. “They were both hugging each other. It was very emotional.”

At another point, they saw a house on a rise, surrounded by floodwaters but not yet engulfed. Boyers touched down, picking up two men, and saw a girl in the window who refused to come out. He flew out, dropped off one of the men and Among, and brought the other man back with him to hoist the girl into the helicopter. When he landed again, he was able to rescue the girl and a woman who was with her.

“I’m in a little hole with power lines all around. It takes enormous energy to take off vertically like that,” he said. So he left the man briefly and then came back for him. “I just kept doing that over and over again until I was low on fuel.”

All the time, he knew he really was not supposed to be doing any of this.

“Every landing was pretty dangerous,” he said. He’s already had a conversation with the Federal Aviation Administration about it.

“I know the FAA can take my license away if they see me flying like that,” he said. He assured them that he did not charge anyone for the rescue, no one was hurt, the helicopter was not damaged, and there were no law enforcement helicopters in the area. After he left Waverly, he stopped at an airport in the nearby town of Dickson to refuel and heard that the state police and National Guard still had not flown in because of the bad weather.

Boyers said he heard from the woman who originally called him in her desperate search for a helicopter anywhere near Waverly. She said her family was safe, but he doesn’t even know if he rescued them or someone else did.

Pulling people from the floodwaters isn’t the scariest thing he’s ever done, Boyers said. That would have to be flying through clouds on instruments only, with some of those instruments out of order.

“Literally, it just felt like I was working,” he said. “Obviously I tabled the feeling wrenching in everyone’s stomach because of the devastation.”

This article originally appeared here.