Sierra Nevada offers plane for Gulf cleanup

July 15, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ
  • This Beechcraft King Air turboprop plane is being sent by Sierra Nevada Corp., a defense contractor operating in Washington County, to help map the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Submitted photo,

Sierra Nevada Corp., a defense contractor operating in Washington County, is sending a plane to the Gulf of Mexico to help map the oil spill.

The plane, a Beechcraft King Air turboprop, has a special satellite dish unit and a camera system that can distinguish between oil and water, said Hal Lucas, the director of Sierra Nevada's Integrated Aviation Systems division north of Hagerstown.

The plane was being tested Thursday at Sierra Nevada's local facility and is expected to leave for the New Orleans area over the weekend, Lucas said.

He said the plane was modified to be a demonstration model. It was in Tampa Bay, Fla., recently as part of a trade show.

A local TV news crew in Florida was invited for a ride in the plane and did a story about the plane's capabilities.


The gulf spill was shown during the news segment.

Lucas said Sierra Nevada officials then contacted the federal government, offering use of the plane to help map the spill. The offer was accepted.

The gulf oil spill began April 20 with an explosion and a fire on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, according to The Associated Press.

BP said Thursday that it has stopped the flow of oil into the gulf.

On the Web

To see a report by News Channel 8 in Tampa Bay showing a Sierra Nevada Corp. plane headed for the Gulf of Mexico, go to

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