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Pilot dies as air ambulance crashes on Christmas

Survival Flight helicopter crashes at Headland, AL airport on December 25, 2019.
Survival Flight helicopter crashes at Headland, AL airport on December 25, 2019.(WTVY News 4)
Published: Dec. 25, 2019 at 5:46 PM CST
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The pilot of a medical helicopter that crashed Christmas afternoon has died.

61-year old Douglas Davis suffered an apparent heart attack while landing the air ambulance at the Headland Airport. .

Henry County Coroner Derek Wright said an autopsy will be performed but he believes Davis most likely suffered a heart attack.

The crew of three had been on a call in the Florida panhandle and was returning to the Headland Airport where Survivor Flight 15 is based.

The helicopter landed upside down a short distance from the designated landing area.

The crash happened about 5:00 Wednesday afternoon.

Statement from Survival Flight:


HEADLAND, AL – On December 25th, a Survival Flight pilot in Alabama tragically passed away after experiencing a sudden heart attack while returning from a cancelled flight, according to preliminary information from the Henry County Coroner. There we no patients on board. Somehow, Doug Davis heroically brought the helicopter completely back to base and nearly landed it normally, the helicopter rolling onto its side at the last second. Because of what he was able to do, our two other crewmembers on board the helicopter suffered no injuries and they began lifesaving efforts on the pilot almost immediately. Sadly, he was later pronounced dead at the hospital. While we’ll wait for an official cause of death from medical authorities, we have no doubt that Doug saved the lives of our two crewmembers and perhaps others with his final act.

We’ve spoken with his wife and conveyed our utmost sadness and our deepest thanks. As a company, we’ll help her with everything we can as she and her family deal with this unexpected tragedy. Additionally, we’ll be offering counseling and emotional support to our crewmembers. 

The safety of each one of our employees is and will always be our company’s top concern. We’re saddened by this tragic loss on Christmas but are thankful for the brave efforts of our pilot who surely saved lives tonight.