Craig's Report - November 6, 1998

The Day of the Helicopter

They flew the big bird today and it was an impressive sight indeed.  The speed at which this thing would whisk those big lift towers up the mountain was awesome.  It really struck me was how small they looked hanging under the Sikorsky, compared to how enormous they looked walking beside them on the ground.

Apparently the biggest lift today was 14,500 pounds which is close to limit at the altitudes they were flying. Perhaps this was the bull wheel assembly, although I don't really know.

I also discovered that the fellow in the seat facing backwards does indeed fly the helicopter when they are hovering with a load.  He lacks pedals to control yaw, which is controlled by the other pilot, but he does have control of the other motions.  Of course he has to mentally reverse everything since he is sitting backwards.   Apparently they don't use the winching mechanism normally, but rather just raise and lower the entire helicopter.

When the helicopter turned or accelerated the towers would swing out at impressive angles.   It could also generate an impressive down wash if you were in the wrong spot. When they picked up this tower, the contours of the road way seemed to direct a furious blast at my position.  I eventually had to kneel to keep from being blown over and even then was jostled around quite a bit.  Up at road level though, it did not seem nearly so bad.

The bright gray skies and lack of sun made taking pictures that were anything but silhouettes tough.  This picture is an example of the problem, but I felt I had to use it to justify the pummeling I took. :-)

To improve the lighting situation I took a walk up the hill so I could get a look back down as they picked up their loads.  Unfortunately I was spotted in my bright red coat and summarily asked to get my butt out from under the flight path.

I climbed though as I retreated laterally and did manage one more shot from above.

I took this shot at about twenty after two as the beast completed a feeding stop.  It was still working on the upper lift and I decided it would be a while until they got down to the lower poles where I might get a shot of them placing one without getting in too much trouble.

Only about an hour later though I noticed it had suddenly become quiet.

nov02986.jpg (17056 bytes)Heading back up I discovered they were done.   Here is the line of poles heading up the Timber Quad.  Amazingly enough they had placed all the poles for both lifts in a single fairly short day.  The wonders of raw horsepower combined with not inconsiderable skill. :-)

(Click on any picture for a larger version)

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