Tennessee helicopter pilot helps save more than a dozen flood victims

Nashville helicopter pilot Joel Boyers just finished a flying lesson with a student on Aug. 21 when he got a frantic phone call. 

A woman from Pennsylvania told him her brother had just left her a goodbye message. He and his two daughters were trapped on their roof surrounded by rushing flood waters in Waverly, Tennessee. And he didn’t think they would survive.

Could Boyers please, please fly to Waverly and rescue her loved ones, she pleaded. The woman had Googled “Nashville helicopters,” and his company was the first to pop up on the internet.

Boyers looked to the west toward Waverly, saw the storm clouds and hesitated.

“Ma’am,” he told her, “no one will fly in this weather, and for good reason.”

A 2018 picture of Joel Boyers, pilot and co-onwer of Helistar Aviation in Nashville

But before he finished the sentence, Boyers, co-owner of Helistar Aviation, knew he would go back up.

“I’ve got a daughter myself,” he told the Tennessean. “I told her I’d take off and see what I can see.”

Survivors tell their stories:Many people are dead or missing after a catastrophic flash flood struck across Tennessee

President Joe Biden on the floods: Biden discusses loss of life following flash flooding in Tennessee

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