Tag Archives: helicopter

Helijet Sunday Ops

The weather in Victoria over the Thanksgiving weekend was not great for aviation photography with a fair bit of rain and definitely only one day when the sun showed up.  That day was not going to be one on which I would suggest to Nancy I go photographing helicopters.  That might not have been the smartest suggestion.  However, when the morning was rainy and cloudy and we were planning on a relaxing day, things could be different.

I hopped in the car and drove around to the heliport which is used by Helijet for their shuttle service to Vancouver.  The Sunday schedule is not the busiest so I had to plan accordingly so I got there in time for an arrival and they were scheduled to head back out again not long afterwards.  I could fit all of this in before heading back for a spot of lunch.

The S-76 is a pretty elegant looking helicopter.  The design has been around for a long time and has gone through a number of iterations but the basic airframe shape is good in my opinion.  It is a lot larger than you might imagine with plenty of seating capacity which makes it good for this shuttle service.  One of the airframes was parked at the heliport when I got there so I got some shots of that.  Then it was a question of waiting for the inbound flight to arrive.

The problem with the heliport is the fencing.  It has quite a tight mesh and it is possible to shoot through it but it requires some care in aligning the end of the lens with the holes.  Sometimes I do better with this than other times.  When the helicopter is coming in, I have to try hard to get it right.  Stepping back away from the fence does provide a little elevation but not much so shooting through the fence is going to be required.

The sky was grey and dreary so approach shots were not going to be too good but I was going to try them anyway.  Once it was close to touchdown, it was a sprint to the fence.  They taxi off the pad to the space in front of the terminal (generous description, I know) and then shut down.  It was too long before they were firing up again.  Given that the wind was not too strong, they were able to lift and head straight out.  As they got on to the pad, it was noticeable just how far aft the rotor was pitched.  Once airborne, this resulting in a nose high altitude and then they were off.

Life Flight Bell 429

Boeing Field has a lot of aeromedical flights that come through and Life Flight Network is a regular part of operations.  They have a variety of types that they use including the Bell 429.  I think the 429 is a reasonable looking airframe compared to some of the other Bell products and the Life Flight colors certainly look good on it.  This one was arriving from the south with some nice light on it.

My First Cyclone (In Horrid Conditions)

We made a trip to Victoria quite a few years ago when I happened to get a shot of a Canadian Forces Sea King as it flew by.  That was the only one I ever shot.  They have now been retired and replaced by the outstanding airframe (tongue firmly in cheek) that is the CH-148 Cyclone.  Based on the Sikorsky S-92, the Cyclone development program has been a bloody disaster.  Even as I write this, they are currently addressing cracks in the tail boom that have just shown up.

Just after we got off the ferry at Swartz Bay, we drove to the shoreline in Sidney.  I had only just parked the car and was heading to get something out of the trunk when I heard the sound of rotors.  It was raining heavily and the wind was blowing but I grabbed the camera from the trunk, set it up for rotors and looked up just as a Cyclone flew by a little way off and then turned downwind.  I think they have a squadron based in Victoria International Airport so I suspect it came from there.

The conditions for shooting were awful and the light was terrible so the shots are not too great.  However, sometimes you go with what is available.  I was hoping that they would be doing some pattern work and that we would get another pass but this was the one and only time that we saw them.  Now I have to hope that this isn’t a repeat of my Sea King experience and I never get another shot (although I’m not sure that it is a great helicopter to photograph anyway!).

JetRanger X Overhead

In creating the 505 JetRanger X, Bell did not come up with the best-looking airframe.  It really doesn’t look like should with the nose looking very stubby.  However, it will probably sell well enough with Bell behind it.  One was making an approach to BFI from the west.  It wanted to land on the east side of the field but there was a lot of traffic inbound so they were made to hold on the west side for a while.  I was watching them over my shoulder.  Gradually they were drifting south towards me so they were almost overhead by the time that they were cleared to cross the field.  It gave me plenty of time to get some shots – even with the traffic on the main runway.

Chinook Welcome Flyby

The presence of JBLM south of Tacoma means that there are plenty of military helicopters operating in the Seattle area.  I got lucky late in one day when a Chinook called up on approach.  They weren’t landing at the field but just flying through.  I got a good view of it as it came in to the field.  They then turned downwind to depart providing a background view as a local JetRanger came in to land.  I am not a big fan of the sand finish used on the Chinooks these days but they do pick up the light.

Sheriff’s Retired Military Trainer

What I thought was a JetRanger came in to BFI one evening.  The color scheme looked a little odd and the markings had a bit of a military feel about it.  Once I got home, I looked up the registration to see who the operator was.  It turns out it was a JetRanger – sort of.  It was actually a retired TH-67 Creek which King County Sheriff’s department had bought.  They obviously haven’t repainted it.  I wonder whether they will.

Sheriff Huey Encounters

My day off work to go plane hunting continued to provide interesting things for me.  I had noticed a UH-1 Huey on FlightRadar24 while looking for something else.  It was off to the east and had been circling various locations.  I assumed it was a firefighting mission and thought no more about it.  Actually it was the King County Sheriff’s airframe and, while I was at Boeing Field, it made an approach and landed at Modern Aviation’s ramp.  It was a bit distant but I got some shots of it and thought no more.

A while later, I was at Renton awaiting the arrival of the A-26 when I heard the distinctive sound of the Huey again.  This time it was close over the top of me and just to the sunny side so rather backlit.  I figured I would shoot it again anyway at which point it commenced a tight descending turn to land on the field.  It came right around me so I got shots all the way – particularly as it got to the right side for the light.  To be honest, it was a little close to me for a good angle but this day was throwing me tons of opportunities and I was not going to complain.

Passing Black Hawk

I was hoping for an approach and landing when I saw this Black Hawk heading downwind but, sadly, it was just passing by, presumably on its way back to JBLM.  It was a bit distant but I still decided to get some shots.  The crewman was looking out of the side of the cabin as they flew by and a few of the shots seem to have them looking directly at me.  The helmet and mask combination that they use is very intimidating.  I wasn’t doing anything wrong, honestly.

More Black Hawk Shots

I posted some shots of the Black Hawks that were delivering personnel to Paine Field for their onward flight in a USAF C-32.  There were only a few shots in that post, but I took a lot of photos of the Black Hawks as they made there approach.  Since there is a limit to what I get to shoot these days, I felt a post could certainly be made of some of the other shots from that day.  Nice evening light really helps a Black Hawk look good.

What Are You Planning With All Of These Robbies?

Robinson operations at Boeing Field are very common.  There are quite a few airworthy Robinsons – R22s and R44s – on the field.  Apparently, someone has plans for a bunch more airframes though.  This selection of airframes are stored awaiting something new.  Not sure whether they are going to be overhauled or just turned in to parts supply for other airframes.  They clearly aren’t flying any time soon.