The Hot Beat


The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him:

Marion chopper pilot on site in Fargo

Perry Walton boomeranged his chopper in for a landing Saturday morning over the flat, white fields east of Moorhead, Minn, fresh off his seventh mission flying over the swollen Red River.

The Marion resident who spent 25 years as a Cedar Rapids police officer has been taking reporters over the valley since Thursday, when he left Marion at 4:30 a.m. to drive to Fargo.

He’s charging reporters $500 per hour, but offers free flights to municipalities.

“We offer our services to the sheriff’s and police departments free of charge — on a limited basis, of course,” Walton said.

Walton, 60, flew the Cedar Rapids Police helicopter before the program was canned in recent years. He now flies a piston-powered Enstrom F-28. He’s logged 35,000 hours piloting helicopters, and he offers “disaster services” in a five-state area — Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska and Missouri.

Walton was forced to evacuate from his hotel in Moorhead, and is now staying at the airport.

“One of these days I’m going to retire,” Walton said.

Later today he plans to take Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland up to see the damage. Moorhead is getting it worse than Fargo. In Oakport Township, just north of Moorhead, water surrounds hundreds of homes and authorities are taking airboats through the streets to cut power to abandoned homes.

Filed under: Cedar Rapids City Council, Flood, , , , , , ,

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