I was recently looking back through a few of the previous posts and came across some images of Erickson Aircrane at work in Chicago with their S64 Skycranes. I was thinking about the various times I had worked with these guys and it occurred to me that several of those lifts had taken place before I started the blog. Therefore, today is a gratuitous chance to look at some older helicopter shots.
The guys at Erickson have carried out many lifts in the Chicago area. On one occasion, they did two lifts in one day on opposite sides of the city. The first was down near Hyde Park with some equipment being lifted onto a residential block. The loads were lifted in a park area in front of the building. Lots of trees were in this park and the Skycrane did an excellent job of finding the weakest and dead limbs. By the end of the job, the ground was covered in dead wood!
The second lift was in Oak Park and was from a garage structure up to the roof of the building. however, next to the garage was an older building with a wooden roof and balconies which had lots of stuff stored on them. After the morning, we were rather worried about how much stuff would be damaged. Amazingly, the gentle breeze from the street made the downdraft totally benign and the building was unharmed. Hope you like the shots.
The arrival of Erickson in town to carry out a lift was described in a previous post which you can check out here. While I was predominantly shooting stills for this lift, I continue to grab some video footage when the opportunity presents itself. I have put together a short video of the lift and you can see it below.
Regular readers of this blog will know how much I enjoy shooting helicopter lift operations in the city. Midwest Helicopters are the local operator and a great bunch of people who have helped me out lots of times. This lift proved to be one of those times although it wasn’t them doing the job. They had finished a job in the city on a very snowy morning and I was exchanging messages with their Chief Pilot when he mentioned that Erickson were in town for a job.
Erickson specialize in lifting very heavy equipment. Midwest fly Sikorsky S-58T aircraft which are good for about 4,500lbs. Construction Helicopters in Michigan (who have made appearances on this blog too) have S-58T aircraft as well but tend to bring S-61Ns to Chicago since they have a higher capacity of up to 8,000lbs so can lift loads too heavy for the local guys. Erickson are a different story altogether. They build and operate the S-64 which can lift a whopping 25,000lbs. This is obviously way above the capabilities of the other operators and way more than most jobs can justify.
Consequently, an appearance by Erickson in town is not so common and is worthy of a look. Moreover, they were lifting just across the river from my home so how could I not go? I have worked on site with Erickson before and so contemplated calling to arrange to be there for this job. However, I was suffering with a bit of a cold and the weather forecast did not look promising so I decided to not try and be on site but to shoot from outside the safety perimeter. Since the lift was alongside the river, getting good shots should not prove to be difficult.
Come the morning of the lift, visibility was terrible and snow was falling hard. All this could be seen from my window so I didn’t need to be out on the ground. Instead, I got ready at a leisurely pace and grabbed a couple of cameras when the weather started to improve. The streets around the Hyatt Regency hotel (the location of the job) had been closed for a while which I found curious since they obviously weren’t going to start until the weather cleared. Lifting in poor conditions is tricky enough but getting to the site in the first place is more of a problem.
As the weather started to clear, I talked to one of the crews maiming the perimeter and he confirmed that they had launched and were on their way, Time to wait. The S-64 is a big beast and you don’t have any questions when it arrives. It’s sound travels well and you know it is coming. Fortunately, there were a bunch of loads to go up (and some to come down too), so there was plenty of opportunity to shoot at different locations. Moving across the river provided some alternative views of the lift. Meanwhile, the weather was continuing to improve until it was actually sunny. Sadly, the lifting location was always in shade but you can’t have everything. Watching the downwash blow the snow around both on the ground and on the roof was quite amusing.
The lift seemed to go well and I covered everything I was after. I also got some video which I shall share later.