PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- The Valley and the world are still buzzing about Tuesday’s dizzying rescue in Piestewa Peak, where a 74-year-old woman needed help getting down the mountain, with the rescue operation taking on an unexpected twist.
According to officials, Phoenix Mountain Rescue has successfully pulled off more than 200 hoist rescues in the past six years, with only two instances of spinning. One of them was on Tuesday, with the head-spinning rescue quickly taking a turn for the worse, and another turn and another, until the woman being saved was spinning like a top.
On Wednesday, hikers said they still can’t believe what they saw.
"She was like (swings back and forth), you know?" said one woman hiker. "Like, it was real bad. It was scary."
"I thought it was fake at first until I started reading more about it," said one male hiker.
The woman reportedly tripped somewhere along the trail, became disoriented and needed help back down. The woman, who is in her 70s, was wrapped up like a mummy and strapped in a so-called "stokes basket”, and gently lifted off the ground. That was then she started to spin, slowly at first, then faster and faster, until she look like a human helicopter.
"There are times when we bring the helicopter up from the ground, it will start to spin, so we have a line attached to the basket to help prevent that," said Paul Apolinar, a chief pilot with the Phoenix Police Department.
Rescue crews held a news conference on Tuesday to explain how a person can turn into a pinwheel.
"As the basket comes up and hears the helicopter, the basket will start to interact with the rotor wash of the helicopter. That is when it tends to spin. It wants to windmill," said Apolinar.
The spinning subsided after a full 60 seconds. The unidentified woman reportedly suffered cuts and bruises from the fall, and then some serious dizziness on the way down.
There's still no word who that woman is and how she is doing on Wednesday, but video of the helicopter rescue has been viewed more than 10 million times online.