Former EMS helicopter pilot James Albertson says helicopter pilots across the state are a tight-knit community, mainly because there's just not many of them.
News of a long-time friend killed in Friday morning's fatal crash really hit close to home for Albertson.
"We served in the military together. He was one of my platoon leaders, and then we flew a lot of counter drug operations together and then hung out several summers," said Albertson.
Albertson was one of the first to hear about Friday morning's tragic EagleMed helicopter crash.
"First thing going through my mind is do I know the pilot, and second thing flying EMS is do I know the crew," Albertson said.
In 1986 in the U.S. Army, Albertson went to flight school with pilot, Mark Montgomery.
"I spoke to Mark in January, he called me to ask me about another helicopter that went down with another company to find out of everybody was okay," Albertson said.
Albertson says there's more EMS flights happening today more than ever because rural areas are doing away with ground EMS services.
He says pilots have to be ready to fly, and respond at a moments notice. Then there's the pressure of making sure everyone inside arrives safely and as quickly as possible.
"It heightens your safety, your thought process, and you always want to try to stay on top of your game as much as you can in a helicopter," Albertson said.
Albertson was an EMS pilot for four years. He says he commends his friend for managing to land the helicopter in the safest spot possible.