Tag Archives: helicopter

Northwest Aviation Consortium Exercise

Last summer, Arlington Municipal Airport was the base of a multi-agency emergency preparedness exercise.  Police, county, military and EMS helicopter operators all came together to practice how they would manage major incidents should they occur in the region.  The prospect of a bunch of helicopter operators showing up in one place was too much to resist so I headed along to see what appeared.

Both King and Snohomish Counties participated, bringing their helicopters in to carry out multiple missions.  The US Navy showed up early on with an MH-60 from Whidbey Island and launched off on a mission but sadly didn’t come back afterwards.  A variety of other emergency medical operators were there with their airframes and there was a pretty regular trade in helicopters departing and returning.

The Snohomish County UH-1 undertook some work to practice lowering crews into remote spots (which I think might include rooftop insertions).  They lifted a platform on which the teams could stand and be carried into position.  They moved various groups of people around the airfield before lowering them to the ground and swapping out the individuals.  I imagine the view from that platform would be pretty impressive.

I stayed well out of the way of operations, but the teams were very friendly and happy to chat when they weren’t engaged in training.  However, with them operating multiple helicopters and having not been part of any briefing, it was clearly appropriate to keep some distance.  This meant the shots weren’t quite what I would have preferred but they were still fun to get.

A Huey Trip at the Last Minute

During our Arizona trip, Mark and I stopped by at Falcon Field.  Our friend, Joe, is involved in a group, the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation, that maintains and operates historic army helicopters, and they were having a flying event that day.  We wanted to see the Huey that they operate as it was taking people out on rides.  We saw a couple of runs and then they stopped for a break, and we could wander around the helicopter.  When they were getting ready for the next flight, they had a spare slot and asked if I wanted to take a ride.  The funny thing is, while I was happy to make the contribution, I often am more interested in seeing the flying from the outside rather than being inside.  However, since it was a good cause, I said yes.  I am so glad I did so.  I had a good spot looking forward between the two crew up front and next to the open door giving me plenty to see.  I decided that video was more likely to be a good way of recording such a trip so that is the majority of what I took during the trip.  I did get some stills, of course, but the video then got edited down to the following piece.  I thoroughly enjoyed the flight and the brief time to see some of the surrounding landscape.  I will not be so reticent in future.

A Police Mi-17 That Might Fly?

When we landed in Nairobi, I was walking across the ramp and saw a very clean looking Mi-17 helicopter.  It was marked up as belonging to the police service.  The person I was chatting to told me that this helicopter and its hangar was very expensive but never actually got flown.  Apparently, it might be a bit of a waste of time and money.  Not sure whether that is true or not but that was what I was told.  It certainly did look very shiny.

Little Jet Ranger X Looks Better in Black

I’ve complained before that the JetRangerX is just not a good-looking helicopter.  I have seen a few of them around here over the last couple of years and one example has shown up a few times in a glossy black livery with a dragonfly style marking on the fuselage.  The cool paint does enhance the look of it a bit.  I still don’t think it looks good, but this is as good effort to improve things.

The Cormorant Beats Me Again

One of my goals for going to the air show at Abbotsford this year was to see a Cormorant fly.  I know this would sound like my normal interest in the bird species but this time it means the AW101 version that is flown for Search and Rescue by Canada.  Sure, I have seen plenty of 101s over the years with the British and Italian examples, but I have never seen a Canadian one before.  It was due to display during the show.  When I got there, I was delighted to see it sitting on the operating ramp.

However, my optimism was unjustified.  There was no announcement during the show about what had happened to the SAR demo, but it just didn’t happen.  The day shows did get the demo, but the Friday evening show was a no go.  It was a fun show, so I wasn’t too disappointed, but it was a little frustrating to still have never seen a Cormorant airborne.  One day…

DNR Huey Stops By for Fuel

While the CAF Reliant was refueling at Arlington, the unmistakable sound of a Huey could be made out.  Snohomish County operates a Huey so my initial thought was this might be it.  As it flew towards us, I realized it was one of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Hueys that are used for firefighting operations.  It flew low over the field and passed where we were.  Then I got a lot more interested as it turned towards us.  It was coming in for fuel and I was by the fuel tanks!

They turned in nice and close to us and I was able to get a bunch of shots.  After shutting down, I chatted to some of the team and they explained they were heading north to relieve another helicopter that was up at a local firefighting base.  With them preparing to depart, I figured I would try and get some video along with stills.  I thought I had set up one camera on the ground to get the take off sequence but it turns out I had not hit the right button sequence and I ended up missing the majority of the departure.  Oh well.  I did still get to shoot the stills I was after.

Merlin Tormenting Me

During our stay in Longparish, we could hear the sound of helicopters on a regular basis.  We weren’t far from both RAF Odiham and Middle Wallop so getting military movements was to be expected.  Getting a camera to hand when they came over was another thing.  However, while on one walk, we did see a Royal Navy Merlin operating across the fields and behind some trees.  Getting a clear look at it was very difficult and, as we got closer to where it was on our walk, it naturally moved off somewhere else.  I never got a good shot.  Here is the best I could manage as they taunted me by remaining just out of reach.

Firefighting Chinook – Just Not Now

We had a few helicopters show up in the region during the firefighting season.  One was at Arlington and that was a Boeing Chinook owned by Billings Flying Service.  Based in Billings MT, they provide a variety of aviation services including this helicopter for firefighting duties.  It was parked on the ramp at Arlington and had a logo on the airframe to show its home base as well as a text logo on the fuselage near one of the navigation lights that referenced the Police song, Roxanne.

I would love to have seen it fly but the weekend when I was up there, it was just parked and work really gets in the way of having fun with aviation on weekdays.  The paint scheme was really cool and it was fitted with an internal water system along with a snorkel for picking up water when needed.  I would love to see this in action but that hasn’t happened yet and there is something very unfortunate about getting to see firefighting operations underway since it is a sign that bad things are happening!

Helijet Operations in Vancouver Harbour

Our long weekend in Vancouver did include some slightly gloomy weather.  When the conditions were not enticing for wandering around the city, I hopped in the car to head down to the heliport on the waterfront. Despite having been to Vancouver many times, I had never actually got down to the heliport itself.  It was really easy to get to from our hotel and the car was welcome in the crummy conditions.

Weekend traffic levels are lower than during the week but there is traffic to Nanaimo and Victoria so that helps a little.  I was happy to sit around for a while and get some shots.  I’m sure a busy weekday would be better and having some slightly nicer weather wouldn’t hurt.  I did figure that, since I had got some shots, a little video might be worth a shot.  I was able to get some arrival and departure video so edited that together in the piece below.  Helijet’s S-76s are nice looking airframes.  I would love to take a trip with them some time – I just assume the luggage allowances are not great!

Checking Out The Northwest Helicopters’ Black Hawk

With the firefighting helicopters gathering at Snohomish to cover the local fire activity, I was able to chat to the crews a little while they waited to see what was to come.  Northwest Helicopters had brought in a Black Hawk to support the fire if needed.  It was a 1984 build airframe and had been painted in a blue scheme.  The guys were complaining about the paint, though.  It was a matte finish and the soot from the exhausts was discoloring the surface and was, apparently, impossible to clean up.  The rest of the airframe looked fine for something that is nearly 40 years old.

They had a Bambi bucket with them for the firefighting side of things and were quite happy for me to check out the interior of the cockpit.  Having shot their arrival, it was a shame that the visibility was so bad that they could not do what they had come to do and were stuck on the ground while I was there.  A nice pair of guys to chat with, though, and I appreciate the time and access that they gave.