Eight Million Dollar Gift Already Up In Big Sky Country - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Eight Million Dollar Gift Already Up In Big Sky Country

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Flathead county authorities are taking to the skies with a gift worth millions from a Whitefish philanthropist.

It already ruffled a few feathers the morning of November 7 outside the just-opened Cabela's Outpost in Kalispell.

"They landed at about 7:30 this morning so we saw some snow swirling around and a few of our campers had to hold their tents down," said Jessica Godderz, the marketing manager for Kalispell's new Cabela's.

Whitefish philanthropist, Mike Goguen, supports all the costs of Two Bear Air, a nonprofit rescue agency.

To keep the program on the cutting edge, he gave Flathead county and Two Bear Air the twin-engine, top of the line, Bell 429 rescue helicopter.

"This is by far the most that we could have ever dreamed of," said Jordan White, the executive director of Two Bear Air.

The $8 million gift has already serviced Flathead county for a month, including the search for the missing duck hunter on Flathead River.

"It's equipped with some of the most advanced technology of any public safety aircraft in the United States, and even in the world right now," said White.

The helicopter boasts a thermal sensing camera, night vision capabilities, and hoist equipment, something aircrafts in neighboring states do not even have.

"That equipment will allow us to drop a rescuer right on to even a cliff face if necessary to get to somebody that's hurt," explained White.

That is especially important in the winter, when longer rescue times translate into a greater chance of victims catching hypothermia. The Flathead plans to share a gift this great.

"We will travel far and wide on the whole Rocky Mountain front to provide the same level of service, it's just based out of Flathead county," said White.

All of the new technology in the cockpit required about a month of training for the flight crew to master.

The rescue helicopter will be on display this weekend, November 9-10, between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. in the Cabela's parking lot.

Crew members will also be available to answer questions about the aircraft and the rescue program.

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