THE versatility of the helicopter has made it the go-to machine during flood emergencies, says North Coast chopper pilot Tim Latimer.
Mr Latimer, the chief pilot and co-owner of T&G Helicopters, based in Ballina, said the variety of jobs done by the two machines the company is operating in the Clarence has been astounding.
"Initially it's moving people who are stuck in places the SES can't get to by boat, delivering food and medical supplies to people who are trapped and bringing in SES crews," he said.
"Now the emergency has died down, we're ferrying food in for people and stockfeed for animals.
"Although it hasn't been a necessity this time, helicopters can bring in pieces of infrastructure like power poles to get things up and running again."
Mr Latimer said the first couple of days of the flood emergency had been the most difficult, with the helicopters, a Bell 207 Long Ranger and a Bell 205 UH-1H "Huey", flying in windy and wet conditions.
"Once it settled down its pretty routine flying," he said.