Flight Officer Barry Winston Wood

Sgt Benjamin Graham

Flight Officer Barry Winston Wood 

1986 Barry Wood checks tail rotor

On this day in Baltimore Police History 1998 we lost our brother Flight Officer Barry Winston Wood to a flight accident based on the following:

All too often police officers face life of death situations alone. During a typical tour of duty, and they run after dangerous criminals, confront armed people in the dark, deserted alleys, and pray for fellow officers to arrive during those difficult moments. Police officers claimed the Arching Angel Michael as their patron saint and in Baltimore the sound of the beating blades of a helicopter they call Foxtrot represents the closest manifestation to a guardian angel, an unequaled source of comfort as it tracks criminals from the sky.

When an officer needed a reliable protector, Flight Officer Barry Wood always did his utmost to provide that assistance. That the beam of his powerful searchlight brought daylight into darkness. His soothing voice, hallmark of the fox trot crew, removed allayed the fears of officers on foot. As flight officer wood patrol the skies over this city, he never took lightly the duty of watching over the neighborhood below as his aircraft, but he also knew that he and his crew had a still higher mission: to safeguard the city’s protectors.

On 4 November 1998 as Baltimore mourned the loss of Officer Harold Carey and hundreds of highly polished police cars formed a long procession that would lay him to rest, Barry Wood took to the skies over Pratt Street to answer another call for help. Minutes later, trainees directing traffic listened in disbelief as their radios crackled:

“Signal 13, a Signal 13, 1050 a RED, Foxtrot has Gone Down.” The wail of sirens pierced the crisp morning air, and officers raced to help, what had begun as a routine for call for assistance over Pratt Street ended with engine failure and a catastrophe. An attempt to land his aircraft with a maneuver called “auto-rotation”, Barry tried to touch down in the B&O Railroad Museum Parking Lot. Foxtrots tail rotor apparently struck either a power line, or a tree which changed the altitude helicopter and drove it into the ground, killing one of Baltimore’s finest. Though severely injured, Barry’s partner and aerial observer Mark Keller would survive the crash, most credit Barry with Mark’s survival, I am sure Mark leads the group of those that praise Barry in saving his life.

When the time came to lay Barry to rest, helicopters from many different agencies flew overhead in tribute as an officer below saluted his flag draped coffin. In the background, a speaker broadcast the dispatcher’s last call for him, “KGA to Foxtrot - KGA to Foxtrot - Foxtrot 10-5 not acknowledging.” The loss of flight officer wood profoundly affected every officer in the Baltimore Police Department because the Foxtrot fleet remained grounded during the extensive follow-up investigation, leaving Baltimore City’s Police Officers to face danger zone until a new fleet of aircraft arrived and resume the role of guardian angels.

As his brothers and sisters of the Baltimore Police Department we will not let him be forgotten, His service Honored the City of Baltimore, and the Baltimore Police Department may he rest in peace, and may God bless him.

Flight Officer Barry Wood was killed in a helicopter crash. Flight Officer Wood experienced a catastrophic engine failure while answering a call for service over Pratt Street. Because of this mechanical failure, Flight Officer Wood attempted to land the aircraft with a technique called auto-rotation. It is speculated that Flight Officer Wood was attempting to touch down in the B & O Railroad parking lot when his tail rotor struck either power lines or a tree. This collision with a fixed object created a change in attitude driving the aircraft into the ground. Flight Officer Barry Wood’s partner, Aerial Observer Mark Keller survived the crash.

January 31, 1986 Flight Officer Barry Wood was in command of the "Foxtrot" helicopter on routine patrol over the city and developed a mechanical problem with the airship. His vast knowledge of helicopters and in the interest of the safety of his observer and those on the ground below, he searched for the closest area to land. Looking down he saw a clear spot on Frankford Ave between Moriva Park Primary and the Frankford Elementary Schools. He double checked the area for any persons on the ground and for any hazards that could affect the landing. He notified the Communications Division about the need to bring the helicopter down (10-50 Red). Communications Division immediately notified ground units to respond and secure the area along with notifications to the Fire Department to be on scene if needed. Officer Wood brought the helicopter down safely without any injuries or damage to the helicopter. He remained a true hero as not only did he concern himself more with those on the ground and the observer with him, he also kept the one thing on his mind that was the only reason he did anything, his wife, he was concerned with getting home to her, and he did, the next he was back in the air, because nothing scared him away from fulfilling the oath he made to protect the citizens on Baltimore and nothing could keep him out of the air or from doing his job. 

On this day in 1998, twelve years later, he developed another mechanical problem this one more severe than the last, one of the department's helicopter took his life. As in the earlier incident, using his experience and training he tried to bring the airship down without any injury to the persons on the ground or to his observer. He was able to bring the helicopter down on a clear lot, positioning the helicopter to land with impact on his side so as not to injure the observer too severely. The observer sustained some major injuries, possible lifelong injuries, but not life threatening injuries, Barry did all he could to see to that. So on this day 15 years ago today, we in the Baltimore Police department lost one of our very best.

The following are just a few of the reports from the Sun papers

Police pilot gets hero's farewell; Officer Barry Wood 2nd member of force to die in 5 days
An article Nov. 11 about the funeral of Officer Barry W. Wood, who was killed in a helicopter crash at the B&O Railroad Museum, reported that in 1970 during the Vietnam War, Wood had declared safe a helicopter that later crashed and killed two of his friends. In fact, Woods had declared the helicopter unsafe.
Vietnam veteran Wood joined police force to fly; Officers remember fallen colleague
Barry W. Wood didn't join the Baltimore Police Department to cruise city streets. He joined to fly over them. Coming straight from the battlefields of Vietnam, the then 23- year-old came to Baltimore less than a month after he was honorably discharged from the Army in 1971 -- part of a bold experiment for building a police helicopter unit. "When we started, we said, `Why not get the best pilots available?' " said Frederick Police Chief Regis Raffensberger, who started the city chopper unit known as "Foxtrot" and made Wood one of his first hires.

Crash kills pilot of city police helicopter; Second officer aboard seriously injured as unit chased stolen car
A Baltimore police officer was killed and his partner was seriously injured yesterday when their helicopter crashed at the B&O Railroad Museum after nearly clipping the dome of the historic roundhouse while searching for a stolen car. The pilot, Barry W. Wood, 50, is the second city officer to die in five days. The crash occurred as the funeral for Harold J. Carey ended, sending officers dressed for a burial racing from a cemetery to the wreckage on West Pratt Street. Wood, a 27-year veteran who flew a helicopter during the Vietnam War, was rushed to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Dr. Thomas M. Scalea, chief of trauma surgery, said Wood's heart and lungs had stopped, but doctors were able to resuscitate him.
Funeral planned for police pilot who died in crash
A section of Harford Road will be closed from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow for the funeral of Flight Officer Barry W. Wood, a helicopter pilot who died when his aircraft crashed Wednesday, a Baltimore Police Department spokeswoman said yesterday.

Further reports said:

November 4,1998 a Baltimore Police helicopter piloted by Flight Officer Barry W. Wood experienced mechanical problems while chasing down a car thief, and crashed into the parking lot at the B&O Railroad Museum on West Pratt St. According to witnesses, a loud bang came from the helicopter and plumes of smoke were seen pouring out the back. Remaining calm and courageous until the end, Officer Wood dispatched a distress signal over his radio, declaring "10-50 RED, 10-50 RED" which indicates that a crash is imminent. Then, the former Vietnam War Pilot, did all he could to maneuver his aircraft away from people on the ground. There were more than 60 people inside the museum at the time of the crash. A ten year old boy playing near the accident site said, “It was coming down with smoke. When I saw it hit the gate, I ran because I was so scared." Fortunately no one on the ground was hurt. On the way down, the helicopter struck a light pole and then crashed through an iron fence in the museum parking lot before coming to a rest on its side. The cockpit was destroyed. The two Officers were immediately removed from the helicopter and rushed to Shock Trauma Center. Flight Officer Wood, 50, made it into surgery, but was pronounced dead at 5 p.m., less than three hours after the accident. Officer Keller, 43, suffered a number of serious injuries, including a broken elbow and a spinal fracture, but survived the accident. At the funeral Barry was compared to "David, the Warrior," a Biblical figure who was renowned for the love, compassion and strength of character he exemplified. Officer Wood's wife of 28 years, Martha, spoke eloquently and powerfully at the funeral. She praised her husband as a great planner and excellent provider, and talked about the special relationship they had. "No one on earth has ever experienced the love that Barry and I shared. He was a loving, caring man who touched everyone that he came in contact with" Officer Keller expressed great admiration for his partner of more than a year and a half when he said, "Barry laid down his life for a friend. Our family will always love him and so will I." Officer Barry Wood's Service, Dedication to Duty, and Compassion Honored the City of Baltimore and the Police Department

A Man Who Loved To Fly
 If your thoughts go to him and they go sad
Just remember this,
He has no barriers anymore,
For now the clouds aren’t closed doors.
He has no limits
It does not matter how high he flies.
The Good Lord has set him free.
And remember this, if it is a shooting star you see,
Think of him and you will know
That his heart and soul will never die,
For he now lives in the sky,
What a wondrous thing for a man who loved to fly.

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More details

End of Watch 4 November, 1998
City, St. B & O Railroad Museum parking lot
Panel Number 3-E: 21
Cause of Death Auto Accident
District Worked Aviation

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