Bill ZImmerman Collection

Ice Fisherman Rescue, December 1958

Naval Air Station Grosse Ile, Michigan (NFB)


To the best of my memory, this emergency call was made on a weekend that a larger number of Canadian Fishermen were stranded on an ice flow floating in the Detroit River north of Grosse Ile.  As duty Helo aircrew that afternoon, we rolled out HUP-2 128526, warmed up engine and awaited Pilot LCDR Walter “Smokey” Staight to arrive.  After launching, it only took a few minutes to locate the men.  On shore communications were being provided by Ontario Provencial Police to NFB control tower.  Data was relayed to us in the air from them.

We recovered 17 fishermen, all men and two youngsters by hoisting them three to a trip.  We landed in a plowed field near waters edge to disembark them to the police.  We made five trips to the ice to pull three at a time and return to shore.  Not one person suffered any injuries.  The only difficulties was trying to convince them we couldn’t let them take all their fishing gear on the aircraft.

With all of those trips, our HUP was low on fuel and couldn’t make it back to NFB.  The OPP (Police) arranged for a fuel truck from Windsor International Airport to come to us with 100 Octane AvGas.  I strained fuel into the aircraft through a chamois, preflighted the Bird,  and we returned to NFB that evening.

The Windsor Star newspaper had sent a photographer and Reporter to the scene.  The attached photos were complements of them to me along with a copy of the two page write up in their newspaper.

Ironically, I was supposed to buy refreshments on my way home where my wife and I   were throwing a Christmas party for neighbors.  I was able to get the Tower Air Controlman to call her that I would be running late as I was on a rescue and “had run out of gas”.

What an adventure.

Photo: (l to r) Bill Zimmerman, ADR2, Aircrew and Hoist Operator and LCDR Walter Staight, A/C Commander

Photo:  HUP 526 landing in the Canadian field

Photo:  Rescued Fishermen leaving HUP

Photo  LCDR Walter Staight, Pilot

Photo:  Pilot, Aircrewman talking to Ontario Provential Police after the rescue

Submitted by:  William R. Zimmerman (ZIM), ADR2

                         25 Jul 2011

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