I miss the amount of helicopter shooting I used to do. Every once in a while I come across a help in action and I feel like it is a little victory. One time it was the local sheriff’s department practicing line work and that showed up here. On this occasion, I was coming away from an interview I had done for a GAR feature. I was at Yolo County airport in California. As I drove down the road, an MD500 was hovering over the field next to the road.
I pulled off a short distance away to see what was going on. PG&E is a local power company and they appeared to be running a training program for they power line teams. They were hooking up transmission components and moving them a short distance to another team that then unhooked them. This process continued as they moved items from place to place giving the ground teams practice with the various items.
There was a strong breeze and a bit of gustiness so the pilot was working quite hard but, since everything was at ground level, I suspect it was a lot easier than if this was at the top of a pylon. He wasn’t the one getting the training, though, by the look of it. I watched for a while and from a couple of different angles and then left them to it. I hope the class was successful.
Previously I posted about the work with Midwest Helicopters at the Merchandise Mart. This post included the stills of the job while this one had some video. That job was all about erecting the steel to support the new chiller units. Construction Helicopters had the job to lift the chillers themselves since they were considerably heavier than the S-58T can lift.
This time I ended up shooting the lift from along the river. While I had originally planned to be back on the roof, the plan changed but it ended up being a better solution. I wish I had planned it to be so but I will take being lucky any day. The view from the ground was one I had intended for the first lift if it had gone to the second day so this time i was able to get shots of the building with the helicopter operating in front of and above it.
This was the first time I had seen the Super Puma that Construction Helicopters have acquired. I have had a soft spot for the Puma family for many years dating back to a model of an RAF Puma I made as a kid. It is a great looking helicopter and certainly a powerful performer.
The weather was excellent and the lift went very smoothly. The chillers were picked from a barge on the river in front of the Mart and lifted to the roof. I certainly wasn’t alone in watching the work as quite a crowd gathered along the river to watch. Great job to everyone involved.
Got a call from the guys at Midwest about some upcoming work recently. Asked if I wanted to come out and ride along for the jobs, one of which was in the Chicagoland area and the other was over in Indiana. Let me think about that for, oh, I don’t know, a microsecond. Sure, I will be there.
There is one downside to these jobs and that is that they mean an early start. The night before Jim texts me to say the weather is looking pretty dodgy and do I still want to come along? Predicting weather is not something that I can rely on so I was still in and if the weather screwed things up, then we scrub it and have another go some other time.
I made the early trek down to their base but before I left I checked the weather radar on the computer. There was an evil looking line of storms marching up across the state. Looking out of the window, the tops of the surrounding buildings were shrouded in mist. This wasn’t looking promising. We would see…
When I walked in, Jim had already been talking to the O’Hare controllers since one of the lifts was under their approaches. With the storms coming, it was already clear that we would postpone the first lift until the storms had gone through. As for Indiana, that was looking unrealistic since the south end of the lake is the most unpredictable for weather and it was a long run across even to get to the job. We hung out and waited.
The storms never appeared! They stalled a way off and the mist lifted a bit. In the end, it was good enough to go so Jim, Phil and I loaded up and headed out. Joe was on the site so he had to sit there and wait it out. I suspect he was glad we finally showed up! We ferried out to the site and set down. I hopped out while the long line was attached and Jim make quick work of the two picks.
For the journey back, I climbed up to the second seat. The cockpit in the S-58T is right on top of the airframe so you have a great view of things. Shame the weather meant it was not a great day for sightseeing! The transit back to base was a fun run and then we all headed off for breakfast. Not a bad way to start a day!