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Granite Shoals airport getting helipad for medical evacuations

Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter at Granite Shoals airport

An Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter lands at Bob Sylvester Airpark in Granite Shoals. The helicopter’s crew fielded questions and gave input on the best location for a helipad being donated to the city by the Granite Shoals Airport Advisory Committee. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

An Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter landed at Bob Sylvester Airpark on Wednesday, Oct. 12, to help the Granite Shoals Airport Advisory Committee determine the best location for a new helipad. 

Committee President Steve Zbranek and his construction company, Christopher’s Custom Homes, are donating the helipad to the city. It will be used as a staging area for emergency medical air evacuations.

“This is just one of lots of improvements that we’re hoping to make for the airport and the community,” Zbranek said to a gathering of Granite Shoals residents and city officials and staff who attended the landing.

The 900-square-foot concrete helipad will be installed at the north end of the 2,000-foot airstrip. 

Sunrise Beach Village Airport helipad
The proposed helipad at Bob Sylvester Airpark will be nearly identical to the Sunrise Beach Village Airport helipad shown here. Courtesy photo

“The good thing is that you’ll have a clearly defined area that you want us to land at,” said Air Evac Lifeteam pilot Scott Thomas. 

Thomas said the helicopter might be able to land in any open space, regardless of a helipad, but a designated landing zone streamlines the process for pilot and EMS workers on the ground.

Zbranek and his wife, Sue, committed to installing the helipad on their own dime, so none of the city’s $10,000 airport budget will be used.

During a Sept. 20 Granite Shoals Planning and Zoning Committee meeting, Zbranek gave a presentation listing the advisory committee’s goals with a helipad among them. 

“I believe it’s a great asset to bring to the city. I want to thank Mr. Zbranek and the Airport Advisory Committee for even coming up with this idea,” Police Chief John Ortis told “I’ve been involved in incidents in the past where, if we had a few more minutes, it could have potentially saved someone’s life.”

Air evacuations typically take place at the Granite Shoals Fire Department on RR 1431, according to Ortis, but this can cost precious minutes if an emergency occurs on the city’s back streets.