RALEIGH — State and local officials participated recently in an open house to tour the Ocracoke Island Emergency-Use Helipad at the Ocracoke Island Airstrip. They received a demonstration of the facility’s capabilities and learned more about medical evacuations that have taken place.
The N.C. Department of Transportation Division of Aviation worked with the Ocracoke Island Airport Authority to get the helipad built at the Ocracoke Island Airstrip. More than $400,000 in state and federal funds was provided for the project.
“With only two ways to transport patients in emergencies – ferry and air – this helipad will provide immediate and safe access for aircraft, which may save lives,” said Division of Aviation Director Richard Walls.
The Division worked with the United States Marine Corps to initiate practice landings for its “Osprey,” a tilt-rotor aircraft that can accommodate larger numbers of patients in emergency situations. The Marines also use the facility for island evacuation training.
In keeping with the division’s “First in Flight, First in Green” drive toward sustainable design and construction, a new LED heliport lighting system consisting of approach/departure lighting, in-pavement flush-mount helipad lights and flood lights was installed. Before the lights were installed to light the landing pad, vehicle headlights were used.
Environmentally-friendly materials were used as much as possible. For example, water-based pavement markings and solar-powered security cameras were installed.
The airport has a 3000-foot runway and was built in 1971 by the Division of Aviation on land owned by the National Park Service (as part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore). The Airport Authority recognized the need for a dedicated emergency evacuation heliport in 2005.
For more information on the helipad, please contact the Ocracoke Airport Advisory Board at (252) 928-3417. For information on aviation in North Carolina, visit www.ncdot.gov/transit/aviation/.