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Flathead's Two Bear Air Rescue nears 1,000 rescue mission milestone

Two Bear Air Rescue has flown close to 1,000 rescue missions since its inception in 2013.
Two Bear Air Rescue
Two Bear Air
Two Bear Air
Posted at 4:35 PM, May 12, 2023

KALISPELL - Two Bear Air Rescue out of Flathead County has flown close to 1,000 rescue missions across Montana and the Pacific Northwest since its inception in 2013.

Using an advanced helicopter, Two Bear Air provides world-class aviation support for search and rescue teams.

On Monday, May 8, 2023, they saved a young man’s life in Glacier National Park using a specialized infrared camera.

“They’re on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” said Flathead County Sheriff Brain Heino.

2 bear air gnp rescue read
19-year-old man Matthew David Read - who had been missing in Glacier National Park since May 5, 2023 - was rescued late on May 8, 2023.

Saving a life is just another day in the office for Two Bear Air Rescue.

“It’s unbelievable, I mean the technology with the cameras, the hoist and a lot of different functions and then the crew of course.”

Sheriff Heino said nine paid staff including pilots, system operators and rescue specialists — along with seven sheriff’s deputies — who take to the Montana skies whenever called upon.

“You know this is a partnership, Mike was very generous in providing us the best tools that we can, and we have great staff that are committed to providing those rescue capabilities.”

WEB EXTRA: Two Bear Air crews take to the air

Two Bear Air is fully funded through Montana philanthropist Michael Goguen at no cost to those being rescued.

“A lot of times we get during rescues and they’re asking how much it cost, and not to speak for Mike but he always has said, you know if it saves one life that is worth all the money that he’s donated to this operation and I think it’s already saved, you know hundreds of lives at this point,” said Heino.

With specialized infrared cameras, Two Bear Air can depart on rescue missions throughout Montana’s vast wilderness during the day or nighttime hours.

Two Bear Air
Two Bear Air is fully funded through Montana philanthropist Michael Goguen at no cost to those being rescued.

“You could be looking at days sometimes for the same time that it would take 30 minutes for this aircraft to do what it needs to do,” added Heino.

Two Bear answered the call Monday night rescuing an overdue hiker in Glacier National Park after picking up his thermal heat signature, extricating him through heavy forest with a 175-foot hoist.

 “It’s an amazing story, the individual is very strong, we’re proud that he was able to hold on and be able to be with us today.”

Two Bear Air
With specialized infrared cameras, Two Bear Air can depart on rescue missions throughout Montana’s vast wilderness during the day or nighttime hours.

Sheriff Henio — who has been onboard the Two Bear Air helicopter for dozens of rescue missions — says the service's value to Northwest Montana can’t be measured.

“We have great resources here in Flathead County and this just makes it one of those exceptional response capabilities that we are able to provide to our citizens and our county and surrounding areas.”