SEQUIM — Diamond Point residents aim to rally the community and local Boy Scouts to help improve Diamond Point Airport 2WA1’s helipad.
Currently, the helipad is a 40-feet-by-40-feet mowed space along the airport’s runway with four white concrete blocks.
With funds and support, members of the Diamond Point Airport Association, or DPAA, hope to create a safer hub for airlifts to the state trauma center, Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Kaye Gagnon, a volunteer for the association, said more than 50 members of the Diamond Point Airport Association began exploring safer options this year after a miscue during an airlift incident in 2017 to pick up a patient following a nearby car wreck.
The helicopter pilot had difficulty finding the helipad because the area has no lighting system, Gagnon said, and it nearly resulted in the helicopter hitting a shed down the runway.
“It’s dark, dark skies out here with no lighting,” Gagnon said. “It puts pilots in danger.”
Diamond Point Airport opened in 1965 with the closest helipads in the city of Sequim next to the Jamestown Family Health Clinic and the Jefferson County International Airport in Port Townsend.
Residents say most of the car wrecks in the Diamond Point area along U.S. Highway 101 occur at night when the helipad is hard to see and dangerous for landing.
Assistant Chief Eric Quitslund with Clallam County Fire District 3 estimates one to two patients are airlifted from Diamond Point annually.
“They go there because the patient needs stabilization first [rather than going elsewhere for airlift],” he said. “When we need it, we need it.”
While the airport is private, Gagnon said airport association members have allowed emergency landings at no public expense for more than 50 years to both Clallam and Jefferson counties.
The airport is also part of Clallam County’s Disaster Airlift Response Team (DART).
“We’re hoping to bring attention to [the helipad],” Gagnon said. “It’s part of everyone’s response system. Who knows? It could help you on your worst day.”
About the effort
Airport association members are working with Boy Scout Troop 1498 and Life Scout candidate Ben Wright to do outreach on the project. Wright likely will lead phase 1 of the project, laying the cement for the helipad, for his Eagle Scout project.
Gagnon said the estimate of cost for materials is between $6,000 and $8,000 for the first phase.
Airport association members anticipate the first phase to take two work days.
The next phases, Gagnon said, could include adding standard aviation lighting and paving or placing gravel from the runway to the helipad so ambulances can access it easier in adverse conditions.
They hope to have construction finished within a year.
Currently there are more than 30 hangars along the air strip but no one in the association owns a helicopter, Gagnon said, so this project isn’t about leisure.
“This is for the community and medical needs,” said airport association member Rich Morey.
Donations for the helipad project can be sent to Helipad Project Diamond Point Airport, P.O. Box 1241, Sequim, WA 98382. Airport Association members ask that donations indicate “Helipad Project” inside.
For more information, contact Kaye Gagnon at [email protected] or call 310-654-3441.
For more information on Diamond Point Airport 2WA1, visit www.2wa1.com.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].