Tag Archives: merchandise mart


wpid9070-AU0E5564-Edit.jpgI shall be a touch self-congratulatory here and celebrate something good that happened to me.  Rotor Magazine held their annual photo contest and I entered a picture in the category Helicopters at Work.  I am happy to say I won the category.  The picture was in the edition of the magazine for Heli-Expo and was on show at the event itself.  Many thanks to the guys at Midwest Helicopters.  It was one of the shoots with them that the shot came from.  I hope they are as glad as I am!

Construction Helicopters at the Mart

wpid7220-C59F9985.jpgPreviously 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.

wpid7210-C59F9951.jpgThis 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.

wpid7218-C59F9978.jpgThis 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.

wpid7222-C59F0030.jpgThe 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.

Merchandise Mart video

In a previous post I showed some images I took at the Midwest Helicopters lifting job at the Merchandise Mart.  As is normal for me these days, I also took the time to get a bunch of video and, finally, I have got around to editing this.  I wanted to focus a little more on the guys working on the roof rather than just the helicopter operations.  Of course, there is still plenty of footage of the flying too!  I hope you enjoy.

Merchandise Mart

wpid6502-AU0E5564.jpgI know what you are thinking.  It has been a long time and no helicopter photos Rob!  You are right, it has been too long.  Fortunately, I can rectify the situation.  The good people at Midwest Helicopters had a very intensive project recently.  The Merchandise Mart in Chicago was the project in question.  They are installing a series of new chiller units on the roof of the building.  These are big units – too large for the Midwest helicopters to lift as it happens.  However, before they go up, there is plenty of work to be done.

wpid6509-C59F6677.jpgBig chiller units need to be mounted to something and getting the structural steelwork up on the roof is no small task.  It needed over 180 lifts to complete the job.  It was planned for two possible days with the whole day being booked for each occasion to maximize what could be done.  Flying the helicopter all day was intensive for the aircraft and required two pilots to alternate in order to avoid getting exhausted.

wpid6497-C59F6467.jpgI got myself up on to the roof of the Mart for the job.  The Mart is a huge building.  It used to be the largest floor space building in the world before the Pentagon was built.  It might still be second (and, if I was diligent, I could probably look that up to confirm it but we know that isn’t happening while I am in mid-story).  The roof is a big space and there were two separate areas where work was going to be done.

wpid6499-AU0E5532.jpgMounting points on the roof had been installed in advance.  The task on the day was to lift each piece of steel to the roof and bolt it into place.  The next would follow and the frameworks for mounting the chillers would gradually come into place as the ironworkers bolted each new piece to the previous pieces.  (The chillers will follow in a few weeks when Construction Helicopters come to town and I hope to cover that too.)  Each pick went pretty quickly.  As the new piece came into place, the guys on the roof grabbed it and bolted it into place.

wpid6517-AU0E5710.jpgThe line would be released and the helicopter would go down for the next piece while the guys finished bolting the piece into place and preparing for the next section.  This was a continuous process as long as the helicopter had fuel.  Given how warm and sunny it was, the black-painted roof was a hot place to be and the guys were working hard.  I was glad to only be photographing the whole thing!

wpid6519-AU0E5771.jpgAfter the helicopter left for the first refueling, I headed down from the roof.  I had other things to be done that day and headed off.  My original plan had been to get some shots from the ground on the second day.  A lot of the steel was being stored on a barge on the river so getting some shots of that being lifted to the roof was the plan.

wpid6512-AU0E5632.jpgHowever, the team was super-efficient and completed the whole job in the one day.  This was a great success for them and, while they were exhausted at the end of it, I am sure they were very pleased with the result.  Unfortunately, with no second day, I missed out on getting the other shots I had planned.  Oh well, there is always another day.