Saturday, December 29, 2007

Looking Back/Looking Forward

Last year at this time, I took a look back on the year that was. In keeping with the reflective nature of year's end, I will attempt to make sense kind of year 2007 has been to me.

2007 started like any other year, with yours truly making one of those New Year's resolutions. I promised myself that I would do anything in my power to avoid a night shift. After 26 years in the business, I figure I have done enough of those. So working OT and taking the the time in lieu, plus vacation time, I was successful. Damn that's the first one of those "resolutions" I have ever kept. Score one for the Murman.

But seriously, 2007 like most years had it's good, it's bad and it's ugly moments. In January, the Robert Pickton Trial began. It was an assignment that ran throughout the year just ending a few short weeks ago. My time there covering it encapsulated "the good, the bad" and most certainly "the ugly" side of human kind. But an experience that I am grateful for none the less.

The month of February brought my first ever winter Vacation. My son had convinced me to strap on a pair of skis for the first time in nearly 20 years. The boy and I spent an incredible week skiing in Whistler along with my brother who was visiting from New Jersey. Now I understand why people take "winter" vacations in cold places. Not to mention the quality time that was spent with my brother and my son.

March brought record flight time. This was due to the weather. Rain, rain and more rain equals LANDSLIDES. There were plenty. During one week of my flight duties, we spent the duration covering a number of significant slides that closed the Trans- Canada highway between Hope and Chilliwack BC. Further up the Fraser river more slides cut off the town of Lytton. It became one of the most visual stories that I covered this year from the air.

But 2007 also turned out to be a year of great loss. In April, the war in Afghanistan became very personal with the death of a young Canadian soldier named David Greenslade. I had never met young David, but I had grown up with his mother Laurie. He was her only child.

Loss continued into the summer and hit all of us at CTV British Columbia very hard with the news that Kenny Lim, a Graphic Artist at the station, had drowned while on vacation with his family in Ontario. The story of his death is one of selfless courage and love for his son. It exemplified the kind of human being Kenny was.

As the leaves fell, so too did a former colleague after a long and courageous battle with breast cancer, Heather Proudfoot-Barry. She was a political journalist of the highest standard. She had been a joy to work with. A day does not go by as I check my hit counters for this blog, when I do not find at least 10 searches for "Heather Proudfoot". It leads me to believe that she is often thought about by all those whom she touched in her brief time with us.

My Family too had been touched by loss in 2007. Just a few days ago, I got word of the passing of my aunt Phyllis. She had spent Christmas with her sons and left us on Boxing Day. But as I think of her and my late Uncle Bill, I always think of their infectious laughter and brilliant senses of humour, and that makes me smile.

The year also gave gifts of experience and gifts of connection. Connections to old friends that I had long lost contact with. Yes I succumbed to the power of Facebook and it yielded many old and dear friends. There is a comfort in that act of reconnection and I am grateful for it.

But now it is time to look forward. The on coming year. New hope, new promise, new experiences, new challanges and of course new connections. God willing, good heath.

And so with that I wish you all a happy and healthy 2008. Now go hug someone you love.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pickton Trial Part 6: Verdict Day

That Sunday morning began like so many mornings. The standard "walk in" shots of the cast of characters that we have become so familiar with.
Sue did her hit into Newsnet, the discussion between her and the host back in Toronto centered around the question of a potential record breaking deliberations. When the hit finished, I began to settle in for the long day ahead. I had brought lots of entertainment to pass the time between hits. Our next one wouldn't be until late in the afternoon.

I went up to our office, ( yes we have a bureau office just a stone's throw away up the long stone stairway of Begbie Square) to warm up and grab a diet Pepsi. I sat down for a second to shoot the shit with Gary T who was tech. producing today.when all at once he said to me as he checked his blackberry: "Verdict!"
"Bullshit" I responded. Hell I was just down stairs and Tapper had a reputation for being a bit of a joker.
As he turned toward me, and I caught the expression on his face, I realized the boy who cried wolf was not joking.
I leaped up out of my chair and ran down the long and treacherous stairway. It must of been quite a sight seeing a short fat guy sprinting down stairs taking them three and four at a time. I was at my camera in less than one minute.
God love Sue, she already was mic-ing herself up. Before I knew it we were breaking into programming and up on Newsnet.
This was it, the day that we had waited for nine days for. There would be a verdict. Word spreading like wild fire to families and lawyers holed up nearby. It would take near 40 minutes for the Court to reconvene. All the while Sue was on the air. Calmly reporting the excitement that was enveloping the area.


I knew that we would be having guests and had a mixer set up, but because of audio routing, I would need a break to bring up her mic and the guest mic together. At the rate and appetite for information, Toronto was not about to break away for me long enough to make it happen. So I decided to deep six the mixer and simply go with a hand held and she would have to conduct her conversations with guests "old school" single stick mic. It was a decision I was glad to have made. The less complicated the better as the situation was very very fluid.

Tamar, our chase producer, was busy hunting down guests and working two cell phones notifying our prearranged guests (experts in law and DNA sciences) to make their way to us. All the while Sue is cranking it out never missing a beat.
It looked like we were going to be on the air for a very long time. As I squinted into my viewfinder, I congratulated myself for having the foresight to have powered the camera with an AC pack as opposed to using a battery. That feeling quickly fleeting as speaking of batteries, I realized that the double A's in the wireless Sue had on might be a bit long in the tooth.
"Shit" I thought, how the hell am I going to change batteries on the fly, live??

I grabbed a pair of AA's and crawled on my hands and knees over to her. I asked Tamar to relay to the control room in Toronto to have the host ask a "long question". They did and it gave me just enough time to switch in fresh batteries.

The temperature was just above freezing outside at our broadcast location, and here it was maybe 10 minutes into our coverage and I am sweating like I'm in the freakin' desert. All the while Sue is doin' her thing. Giving the viewers a great performance and exquisite oratory. I was in the presence of greatness.

By now all media outlets were on the air and the anticipation of just what the verdict would hold was at a climax.
"The jury is just now entering the court" Sue proclaimed. It was indeed very close now. Blackberries all over the courtyard were no doubt buzzing with information coming from inside.
"Not Guilty!" she said as the information was being read off the screen.
Then she said" but wait, we are now getting information that the Not Guilty verdict is for 6 counts of first degree, Guilty on counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and yes 6 counts of second degree murder"
There it was, a conviction. But the drama was just beginning. While we were on the air the streets had been blocked off by police. I did notice a sudden increase in police presence on the square, but it had not registered as I had been dealing with my own situation. It was not long before the families and court watchers came out of the court past the small crowd of TV cameras and newspaper photographers.
Sue describing this for the viewers giving everyone a sense of actually being there. The families came out past the waiting media and over to the CTV local tent. there they had formed a circle and began a solemn ceremony, lighting candles, remembering their loved ones, the six victims. It was a very moving moment, one that when I look back and remember it, brings goose bumps to the back of my neck. The impromptu gathering was shot from another camera position. All the while Sue respectfully staying quiet only occasionally interjecting a poignant observation to our viewing audience.

Families gather for a candle light ceremony remembering their loved ones

Sue on the air with a family member, while in the background an emotional embrace

There were tears and there were hugs. The anguish written on many faces. Yet relief. These folks had indeed been through allot, yet took the time to come to us and share their thoughts and reactions to Sue. It is something that has always humbled me as a story teller, the willingness for people who are hurting, speaking to us under the glare of my lens and sharing with us raw feelings that are very personal and pure.

Sue handled each guest, be it a relative of one of the victims or an invited guest "expert" as if they were her own family. Often the conversation was emotional. But her gentle ways comforted those who spoke to us. Her interviewing mined those golden nuggets of information giving us glance into someones heart. It truly was a privilege to behold.

Sue speaking with the sisters of Georgina Papin one of Robert Pickton's victims.

The Newsnet animal is a hungry one however and the coverage was wall to wall. It was the biggest national story of the day and the Net's appetite was ravenous. Tamar was hustling and wrangling guests for Sue. When it was finally over for CTV Newsnet, Sue had been on the air for just over eight straight hours. Then after a quick sip of coffee she did a hit with CP24 and Court TV Canada.

Crown Prosecutor Mike Petrie speaks with Sue Sgambati during her eight hours on Newsnet. It was Mr. Petrie's first one on one after his pooled presser.

Sue enjoying that sip of Timmy's finest just before she did her CP24 and Court TV Canada commitments.

I have been in this business for almost 27 years and I have never seen such an incredible performance by a single broadcaster. Eight hours, never missing a beat, never stumbling a line or fact, never flustered. God damn that was amazing and I was proud to have witnessed it first hand.

Needless to say, we all had a wrap dinner that night, toasting our team. It was bitter sweet as now that the verdict was over, so too was my time with Sue.
The girls were being released from the story after 3 full weeks. Now they could return to friends and family back at World Headquarters. Sue got out on the first flight home to return to her family and to her duties as host and producer for Court TV Canada. Tamar left later the next day and after a couple of days off returned to her duties in the control room.

Our Newsnet team -Tamar Vartanian , Murman, and Sue Sgambati - posing for one final group shot at the end of Verdict Day

For me the Pickton trial had one final chapter, and it would come in the form of the sentence. I was reassigned to local coverage and teamed up with both Lisa and Janet for the shows. It was a great way to finish what was a very tough assignment.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pickton Trial Part 5: The Concert

By the end of that first weekend of jury deliberations, energy levels were low. I recall just wanting to get home when the night was done and crashing to sleep. I knew full well that the 6 am wake up alarm would come soon enough.

And it did. I arrived on that Tuesday a bit agitated because of a household disagreement that privacy laws forbid me from revealing. Well they don't really, but if Mrs. Murman reads this blog, I would end up in a world of shit and quite frankly I'm not much in the mood for that at this point in time.

The day progressed very well until one of my friends from Global National showed up.

"Hey Murman guess what??" he asked (more like taunted)
"What?" I answered.
"I'm goin' to the Van Halen concert tomorrow night!" he replied
"Shit, you rat bastard, I couldn't get tickets and besides it looks like I'm stuck here anyway."
I had wanted to see these guys since 1981 when they made the swing through the Maritimes. I had tickets then, but the show was cancelled in Moncton as I recall due to a stage /venue issue.
I looked at him with envy and contempt for rubbing it in that he was going. Especially after the mood I was in from the aforementioned "domestic dispute".
"Murman, I gotta friend that has an extra ticket." he says.
"Get him on the phone!" I demanded.
He did and after a brief conversation, I had myself a ticket outta Begbie Square. My demeanor instantly improving.

The day of the concert, I was able to get someone to cover my late hit. It would feel nice to go somewhere other than the Courthouse in New Westminster even if it were only for a few hours.

The seats were good ones, Al's friend sold me the ticket for face value. It proved to be money well spent.

The show begins with Eddie's son Wolfgang on Bass, David, Alex and Eddie rockin' with "You Really Got Me Now" (photo Vancouver Sun)

The show began with the familiar riff of Eddie playing "You Really Got Me" and David Lee Roth prancing down a long curving ramp waving a giant red flag. It was on. After 26 years, I finally got to see Van Halen. For the next two hours it felt I was back in high school 1979. I pumped my arms with every beat. Enjoyed every song. I knew them all by heart.
Eddie had brought his "A" game and so too, did David. It was freakin' great. For that two hours there was no court, no deliberations, no wait and no worries about what the hell we were going to do when a verdict came down.

Eddie = Guitar Hero! brought his "A" game (photo Vancouver Sun)

Yes it was quite a show, good escapism and when the show was over, there had not been one single song that I had wished they had played. They played it all. Now if I could only hear. It took two days for the ringing to finally stop. The show gave me the energy to see this assignment to it's end.

It was one of the best shows I have ever seen ( Photo Vancouver Sun)
,,,,You really got me!

Oh ya, thanks Al !

Pickton Trial Part 4 :The Long Wait

After 10 days of closing arguments, judge's charges to the jury and countless live hits about the proceedings, a milestone was reached. The case went to the jury, meaning the deliberations would begin. For all of us covering the trial it meant that we were finally in the "home stretch" of this marathon trial.

This happened late in the afternoon of Friday November 30th. Naturally there was an air of excitement as we reported live into each of our respective shows. I recall after our live hits, giving a celebratory hug to Janet. She had been on this case a very, very long time and now finally it seemed an end was within sight.

The night the Jury went into Deliberations, CTV Camera Steve Murray, Reporter Janet Dirks and Yours Truly pose for a celebratory photo

The jury was sequestered and now the long wait would begin. Naturally predictions of how long and when the jury would return a verdict ran throughout Begbie Square. Poolies started to flock to their bookies and place their bets. Most of us thought a Tuesday or a Wednesday verdict would be ideal. Of course any one's guess was as good as any. But what this new phase meant, was now we would be required to be at a constant state of readiness as long as the jury was deliberating. Hence, the long wait.

During this "long wait" we were still required to file. How many times could one report that "deliberations continue" or how many different ways could it be stated that "no one really knows for sure" how long this could take, our on air talents would indeed be tested.

The jury came up with a workable deliberation schedule- 9:30 am break for lunch at 1:30 till 3 pm and then go until 8pm finishing for the day. It made for a long day of being at a "constant state of TV readiness".

As the days began to pass, the weather went from fall to winter in about 6 hours. The snow began to coat the courtyard during that first weekend of deliberations. The heater became everybody's best friend and since yours truly had the kick ass flame thrower, guess who was "Mr. Popular"

The snow flies as CTV NewsNet/ Court TV's Sue Sgambati prepares to tell the viewers "The Jury is still deliberating". That's CTV News Net chase producer Tamar Vartanian on the phone.

The families of the victims, who by now were very familiar to us all began this "long wait" with good spirits, but as the days wore on, so to did the emotions of the group. There were times that one or more of them would come on over and get what ever they were feeling off their chest. It was almost as if I had a sign just outside the tent that said: Psychology- 5 cents. It was harmless, but over time it wore a person down. I did my best to be friendly after all they were going through some of the worst times in their lives, I suppose listening wasn't going to kill me. But their chain smoking might,,,,

One of the families, the Frey's, who daughter was among the murder counts that the jury was working on, really touched us all at the CTV broadcast tent. Each morning as Lynn would arrive, she would walk past the phalanx of cameras to our tent. In her hand she had a bag filled with pastries and muffins.
"I brought you some goodies" she would say " You guys have to be here too, and I appreciate it"
"That was very kind of you Mrs Frey, but you don't have too,," I would say
"I want too" she replied.
"Thank-you" was all I could manage to answer.

Janet speaks to Lynn Frey (in the red coat)

But as the long wait continued, the spirits of each of us began to tire. Stories, not related to the trial, lead the nightly news. Our instincts were calling us away from the Square. We all needed a change in scenery. We all wanted our lives back. Visiting journalists missed home and the comfort of their own beds. Local journalists although sleeping in their own blankets, lived and breathed this story. It's toll on household conversations, family activities and mental health cannot be overlooked.

Yet with this endless wait, there were the high points. The laughs and war stories of our colleagues. But you know it's been a long wait when those war stories begin to repeat.
We just all prayed for a verdict, the sooner the better.

One of the most remarkable days began with rain, heavy rain. So much so that one of the media tents collapsed overnight. As the day continued the dark clouds continued to gather. The mood in the square was tense at best. But that afternoon just before a break, the sun began to shine from the west. It was low in the sky and with the heavy showers of just moments ago, a rainbow appeared over the courthouse. Then a second rainbow. Brilliant and uplifting to all. Families saw this as a sign of good news to come. The rainbow didn't elaborate on the time line of this "good news to come". So the long wait would continue.

A symbol of hope appears over the New West Court House

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Pickton Trial Part 3: The Blessing

My days at the trial usually began with a stop at the gas station. Filling up gas cylinders for the heater. When I would arrive at Begbie Square, a lone security guard would greet me and he would help me unzip the tent.

The first order of business would be to get the heater fired up and take the chill out of the tent. Then I would begin to wire up the camera and position the lights. Each and every morning brought an early hit into CP24 and then a hit into CTV NewsNet. Later as the day wore on, more hits, some ENG work (shooting the "ins" and "outs") and finishing the day with local live hits into the 5 and the 6, ending with a NewsNet live. It was a routine that lasted nearly 3 full weeks. The days went from 7 am till nearly 9 each night. This kind of an assignment could grind you down in a hurry if it were not for the gift that the TV Gods had given me.

That gift came in the form of three very talented journalists. Two , Lisa Rossington and Janet Dirks, I have the privilege of working with everyday at CTV in Vancouver. The other, from the home office in Toronto. Our first meeting was on that first Monday of closing arguments (nearly 4 weeks ago now).

CTV British Columbia reporter Lisa Rossington. She had been on this case since the original raid on the Pickton Farm.

CTV's Janet Dirks, she too has covered this case since the beginning. A kinder person you will not find anywhere.

She arrived that morning finding the CTV tent and asked: "Are you Dave??"
"No", I said "He's up in the office, I'm Murray the Camera Guy, can I help you?"

She introduced herself: "Hi , I'm Sue Sgambati, I believe I have a live hit with you in a few minutes."

Court TV Canada's Sue Sgambati, an instant hit here at the CTV Broadcast Center in
New Westminster, British Columbia

Her assignment was to fill the live requirements for Court TV Canada, CP24 and CTV NewsNet until the end of the trial. A tall order indeed, but one we would both relish.
As the days wore on, our conversations revealed that we had much in common. I discovered that she was very much an "old school" journalist. All about the story, a storyteller. Not like some in our business, about themselves. She was very much a team player, something again highly prized in this business, not to mention this assignment. She had a marvelous sense of humour, something that would help us through some of the mentally fatiguing times that would lie ahead. There was not a day that passed without the two of us sharing in a mind cleansing belly laugh. And through laughter and conversation, we bonded.

Sue preparing to do another live hit for CTV Newsnet

Yes it indeed was a blessing to have been given such a pro to work with. When asked by a producer in Toronto for a 3 minute "breathless" to tape. She would glance at her notepad, give a 3-2-1 and rattle off 3 minutes to the second, on the first take!
Sue fit right in with the team. I found myself wanting to call her bosses in Toronto and asking if we could keep her. Of course we could not, but you can't blame a guy for trying.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pickton Trial Part 2: The Campfire

One of the lessons learned from our first experience last winter from Begbie Square was it was freakin' cold no matter what the weather. We had rented a construction heater to heat the tents last winter. They were so successful that we purchased one.

It was money well spent. One thing about waiting long periods of time outside a courthouse, is, it's better to stay warm and dry. Nothing makes a shoot any more miserable than a cold/ wet reporter and operator.

The device is fueled by propane gas. Stopping at the gas station every morning filling a cylinder for the heater became a daily ritual. Our flame throwing heat generating marvel became the envy of all of our competitors. They too invested in heat technology, but settled for smaller "Camping" heaters. Still colleagues from the other shelters always found their way into mine enjoy the Sahara-like temps at the CTV Broadcast Center. Just part of that little extra service we like to provide at CTV Broadcast Services--Heat.

Chester, a Global Cameraman, warms his hands during the long evenings waiting for a Verdict

The burner became a center piece especially during the evening hours as we awaited a verdict. Folks would gather, sometimes bringing along a chair, but often just standing around, shooting the shit and telling war stories around the campfire. Often we would just bemoan the fact it was day number whatever and wishing this story would just come to an end so we could all get our lives back.

The lads have brought their chairs, huddled around the Campfire, but what are they watching???

Hockey Night in Canada on a 7 inch monitor!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pickton Trial Part 1: The Commitment

Back in January of this year a trial began with opening remarks from lawyers for the Crown outlining the case against Robert Pickton. He was charged with the murders of 26 women. This case against him would involve 6 of those 26 in what would become a history making trial of Canada's worst serial murders.

Needless to say this trial would attract a lot of media attention.

To accommodate the needs of the TV medium, a tent city, Camp Pickton, was assembled on the courtyard. Each media tent had been serviced with electrics and wired for live broadcasts. This would become my home for the first weeks of the trial. But as the proceedings wore into the summer months and interest for the daily minutia of expert testimony wained, it was decided to pack up the camp for the summer. The Camp would only reappear for the final stages of the trial.

Those final stages began four long weeks ago.

Dave, my Tech Supervisor had asked me to commit to finishing the trial for our organization. Most of my colleagues avoided the courtyard of New Westminster, like the plague. Our station had two reporters, Lisa Rossington and Janet Dirks, who had followed this story since Police first raided Pickton's farm some 6 years ago, had made the commitment. I felt that I should step up and finish this trial. By doing so, I knew it would likely cost me flight weeks, but it was something I felt was important to experience. The decision was actually quite an easy one to make.

Camp Pickton, Begbie Square New Westminster BC.

My role was to arrange, manage and shoot from our broadcast positions on the courtyard called Begbie Square. CTV would have two tent positions, side by side. One for National and News Net requirements, the other for Local CTV positions. I have always enjoyed the challenge of setting up shop at a location that is not exactly TV friendly. The kick for me is making it functional and making it work. Dave assigned me to the National tent or I liked to refer to it: The CTV Broadcast Center. I would also shoot ENG when required.

A look inside the "CTV Broadcast Center"

It had all the makings for an epic TV adventure. It would have it's moments, good and bad. To paraphrase a line for one of my favorite movies- "All I wanted was a mission, and for my sins they gave me one, and when it was over, I damn sure didn't want another."

But I had made the Commitment, and it was one I would be tested to keep.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Return of Murman

My absence from this blog is over. To you my loyal reader, I thank you for your patience. Two months is a long time and in that time much has happened. The world of WWM has centered around one story. A murder trial in the city of New Westminster, British Columbia. It has been quite a journey. One I hope to share with you in a number of parts as I re-commit to pounding the keyboard, recounting my news gathering experiences and presenting them onto this blog.

Some of you might remember a post from earlier this year about a trial of one Robert Pickton. The trial began last January and just yesterday, a verdict was reached. The next couple of posts will look back on the past several weeks. The posts will not center around the goings on inside the court or the proceedings. If you are looking for that, you can find it written on other blogs/websites/newspapers- No, I will give you my spin on just how I managed to cope though the weather, the waiting and the chaos that this assignment provided. Just bare with me for just one more night as sleep seems to be the thing that I need the most.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Tale of Two "Specials"

Sorry for the delay getting myself back writing on this blog. I have been on the road with our 6PM show for the past week and writing seemed to be the last thing on my mind.

Funny thing about last weeks "Specials". It was kinda like a dejavu. You see way back in 1994, I went on my first big "Special" assignment. The plan then was to take our 5 PM show to the State of Florida and shoot/ edit and do a live broadcast with our two main hosts, all for the folks back in Maritime Canada. The reasons why we did this are not important to the story, but the idea was to broadcast via Satellite and then pack up the show and move to a different city and do it all over again the next day. My crew assignment on this venture was as an ENG Shooter/ Editor and as a hand held live camera during our show. Of course as any production crew member worth his or her salt, one was also expected to set up and then strike each set. Loads of heavy lifting and no complaining. I am sure our colleagues back in Atlantic Canada thought it all to be fun in the sun for the crew, but if you have been on such a tour, you know it's work and it grinds you down. This assignment would test me and the crew.

Last week's assignment was remarkably similar. Our mission: To Broadcast our Six O'clock Show from a different location each evening in and around Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Of course this assignment lacked the "sun and heat" of Florida but had the cold and rain of southwestern British Columbia. My assignment on this one was however, SNG/Switching and Lighting. Again, this assignment would test all of us on this crew.

I began to notice the similarities very early. In fact, on both occasions when informed of my selection to the crew, I was excited to be a part of something a little different from the daily news grind. (I have to admit that I was much more excited when informed about the Florida assignment as it was my first time out of the Country related to work and after all it was a cold and blustery March and we were going to sunny warm and tropical Florida.)

As I recall, arriving in Florida did not disappoint. It was indeed warm and we quickly changed from our winter gear into our shorts and sneaks. Once settled, we quickly went off onto our respective assignments, knowing that we would have to cut and feed our items before the show. Not to mention technical setup of the show. Needless to say, time would be the enemy each and every day.

I remember the first show on a warm Monday evening from South Beach Miami. The time crunch compounded a few technical issues. The show was a bit rough. But we made it. Exhausted and hungry we now struck the set and packed it into the 5 ton and headed onto our next location. Hoping that tomorrow would bring a better day.

Last Monday, was very, very similar. There were a few issues. Technical gremlins if you will. The weather was not helping. The crew and talent being out of the comfort of the studio added to the stress of the first show. We made air. The show too, like the one on day 1 of the '94 assignment, a bit rough.
As we all packed up, again hoping that tomorrow would be a better day.

On both occasions "tomorrow" was a better day. Comfort levels improve as one has a better idea as what would be in store. Technical issues , like troublesome IFB's and Comm lines were solved. Talent and Crew up their "game" the result, a better shows on day two.

This trend would continue for both assignments as the week progressed. Culminating with a final shows that everyone feels great about. It makes the problems of "Monday" seem far, far away.

Regardless, I always feel stronger after such experiences, even though my back and arms are a little sore.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sad News from Home

Murman, Heather Proudfoot and Nancy Regan - Florida 1994

It is never easy to write about someone during times of sadness. Such is the case today as I sit down and try to put thoughts to words upon learning of the death of a friend and former work colleague Heather Proudfoot Barry. News of her passing was relayed to me this very morning and hit me with a deep sadness and shock.

Heather was a bit of a legend in the Saint John Bureau of ATV back in the early 80's. A person of extreme integrity and good humour, she was well liked and respected by all those who worked with her in the field. By the time I arrived at that Newsroom she had moved onto ATV Halifax. I had met Heather socially before I came to work for ATV. Once I had arrived I was regaled with tales of Heather's abilities to tell stories and her way with everyday people, by her former cameraman Brian Chisholm.

Nancy , Heather and George at a place called Rosies in Florida 1994

It wasn't until ATV took the show to Florida during the spring break of 1994, that I finally got to experience what Brian had told me so fondly. Heather had a gift of being able to make an immediate connection with people of all stripes. She had a wonderful smile, one I shall not forget. My only regret is I did not get to work with her more often.

My thoughts are with her family, husband Art and their boys.

Here is her Obituary as it appeared in one of the Halifax papers:

PROUDFOOT BARRY, Heather - On September 14, 2007, surrounded by the love of her family and friends, Heather peacefully passed away in QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax. She was a loving and wonderful mother, wife, daughter, and friend who will be sadly missed but remembered with love and a smile. Heather was born in New Glasgow on December 17, 1958. She graduated from New Glasgow High School in 1977, where she excelled in soccer and music and was the founding editor of the high school newspaper. She studied journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa, graduating in I981 with an honours degree in Journalism (with concentrations of study in Canadian History and Political Journalism). Heather worked summers as a newspaper reporter with the New Glasgow Evening News, landing her first full-time job at CFNB Radio in Fredericton, covering city council and the law courts. Heather began her career with the Atlantic Television System (CTV) in 1982 in Saint John. In 1984, ATV moved her to Halifax to report for Live at Five and the 6 o'clock news. In 1988 Heather became the network's Legislature reporter covering the political events of the day from Province House in Halifax. She remained in that position until 1996, also serving in various executive positions for the Legislative Press Gallery Association. During her career as a political journalist Heather covered many significant events, now part of Nova Scotia's political history. Her stories documented such events as the tumultuous end of the Buchanan era and the rise and rocky fall of the John Savage government. She also had the opportunity to travel. She was sent to Washington, D.C., to cover the ushering in of the free trade era when Brian Mulroney became Prime Minister. Heather also covered Canadian Military maneuvers off the coast of Puerto Rico. She was among the first journalists sent to the site of the Westray Mine disaster and along with the CTV team, provided ongoing coverage of the immediate aftermath of the event and the years of political fallout that followed. Heather always said that was the most significant story she ever covered. She was especially touched by the event given that it happened in her own home county. Indeed it was her love of home and family that kept her near, despite several opportunities to work nationally elsewhere in the country. In 1992 she met and, two years later, married the love of her life, Art Barry. Together they had two boys, Michael in 1996 and David in 1997. Heather continued to work part-time for ATV after the arrival of her sons but then devoted herself solely to her family and community. She was president of the Crichton Home and School Association, a co-ordinator with the Block Parents Association and a member of the Saint Andrews Presbyterian Ladies Guild. She has also served on the selection panel for the University of Kings College Atlantic Journalism Awards. She also continued her volunteer work with CTV's Cape Breton edition of the Christmas Daddies Telethon appearing as co-host with dear friend and colleague Bill Jessome for 20 years. Diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2004 Heather confronted her fight quietly but bravely. She fought back and became well again and was resuming a regular life with family and friends. A family trip to Disney World in 2005 and time spent at the family cottage in Pictou County will live in our memories forever. On May 31, 2006, however, the bad news came. The cancer was back and Heather and her loved ones were in for the fight of their lives. Her husband Art, her boys and her family were at her side for every moment of the battle and her gratitude and love for them saw her through. Heather spent the last months of her life preparing her family for what was to come. Long talks with the children, lots of hand-holding with Art and her mom made for many special moments. Even then, the good moments outweighed the bad. While shorter than it should have been, Heather felt she led a full life. A wonderful childhood rambling over the sands and rocks at the cottage, close to 20 years in the profession she lovedÉ and looking after her own family and children. Despite her illness she still managed to pull off the best Halloween parties in the neighbourhood, our regular Christmas traditions and our Valentines chocolate fondue parties. She was always quick with a get-well note or basket of food for anyone else going through tough times. And her smile... oh, that smileÉ continued to light up a room until the very end. Heather is survived by her husband, Art Barry; sons, Michael and David, at home; her parents, Jim and Jean Proudfoot, New Glasgow, and brothers, Frank (Tara), Kendall (Jenny) and Jim (Janet). She is also survived by her wonderful nieces and nephews, and oldest and dearest friend, Barb. Heather would like to thank her many friends and neighbours who rushed to her side when needed. Every card, every note, every little package meant a great deal. Heather's ashes will be scattered in the waters of Chance Harbour in Pictou County. There shall be no visitation but family will be receiving friends in Dartmouth on Monday evening, September 17, at the Banook Canoe Club between 6:30 and 9 p.m. Flowers may be sent to the Banook Club between 3-6 p.m. Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be made to the palliative care unit of Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow (902-752-8311). Her funeral will be held on Thursday, September 20, in St. Andrews Presbyterian Church (the Kirk) in New Glasgow at 2 p.m. She was baptized there, married there, and now comes home to rest.

Heather Proudfoot Barry 1958-2007

Friday, September 07, 2007

"Poor in Pocket, but Rich In Spirit" the story of a Prize Flight

This is a story of a Prize Flight. The Prize Flight was the grand prize we gave away every day at our Broadcast Center at the Pacific National Exhibition for the past 2 weeks.
The folks who win are usually very excited. Most have never been in a helicopter and for me that's the kicker. I get a charge flying with folks for their first flight in a rotary wing.
We have been doing this for the past 3 fairs and have flown scores of first-time fliers. But the winner from last week is the one I shall always remember. I cannot possibly tell her story and give it justice. So here is an email she sent to me and she tells it so well in her own words.

"I'm going to tell you a story about my faith in God and my thanks to CTV news. Today, I was not feeling well, my spirit was broken, I counted my pennies once again to pay bills, still not enough in the end to cover every bill, but yet, I wanted to go to the Pacific National Exhibition, so off I went, Broken and sad, I got to the PNE, I paid my fare to get into the PNE, and thanking the creator for blessing me.

As I walked along the fair grounds, I looked at all the rides, wanting so much to go on them, to experience them and to have fun alone. You see I have never really experienced any rides in my life; I always had too low self esteem and felt too fat to go on a rides.

I had enough to buy my foot long hotdog, mini donuts and a sprite, as I sat in the blazing sun, feeling like a kid, eating foot long hotdog and slurping frozen sprite, enjoying the midway screams, and relishing the smells of cotton candy, drinking in the flavors of the carnival, it was if I was a kid let loose, and it felt good.

Ah! I felt like skipping down the midway runway, among the crowd, still slurping frozen sprite, and wanting to get lost among the sea of humans, not a care in the world. As I approach the rides and still a glimmer of hope sits upon my heart, really wanting to go on the rides.

I watch as people wave frantically at cameras, I get into a line up at the CTV booth for a free picture with Pamela Martin, except it really isn't a picture taken with her, but with a photo of her, as I leave I am asked to enter into a draw to ride in the CTV News Chopper Nine Helicopter. I think nothing of it as I fill out the form and drop it into the barrel among thousands of others.

I continued on my way, admiring how handsome and good looking Bill Good is, looking at Pamela Martin as she makes ready herself for the six o'clock news, I watch the crowd waving at the cameras, making silly gestures, and funny faces. I enjoy the silliness of others and snicker to myself as I find a seat in the shade, where I could watch the rides and wonder if I had the money to ride them, will I have the nerve to get on them, or would I once again let fear take over me and let me never experience the rides I truly want to experience.

I never thought any more of the ballot I filled out to ride on the Chopper, as I sat watching people, they started calling names out for prizes, they called many names, people fill out ballots and leave, they were going to call about the twentieth name, when I got up and started walking up the hill.

All of a sudden I heard, Sylvia Isaac are you here, I started screaming and fighting my way through the crowd, I'm here! I'm here! I'm here. They called my name to ride in the chopper, I was alone, I needed to bring a friend with me to qualify, so I grabbed a woman out of the crowd, I told her she was going with me.

I was in disbelief all the way to the chopper, I felt so blessed, God knew I couldn't afford a ride at the Midway, so he gave me a ride that was an envy to all, as we rose above the earth, over towards the north shore mountains, over the ocean and along the city. I felt like a royalty, being given royal treatment, to see the city high above in a bird's eye view was something out of this world, a blessing that only a Creator could give someone like me, that is poor in pocket, but rich in spirit.

As I walked along the midway on my way home after the chopper ride, people were coming up to me and shaking my hand, congratulating me for winning a prize so wonderful. I rode the bus home, Thanking God for the blessing. And remembering a little prayer always turns into a great big reward for those who have faith."

Written By Sylvia Sharon Isaac August 29 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Fountain

One of the things I enjoy the most doing what I do is meeting people. I have met the rich, the famous, the not so famous. The good, the bad and yes even the ugly. But what keeps me comin' back for more are the people that make me laugh and bring laughter to those around them.

This week Brent and I found such a person at the PNE. He's a performance artist that has daily shows as part of the Fair. His act, one of the most unusual and unique busker performances I have ever seen. The faces that look upon him when he performs are a testament to that.

Brent found this guy on a search of the grounds after our original story went sideways. He went on a recon of the grounds while I was on another assignment. I was actually shooting an 'Olsen on Your Side" taste test at our PNE Broadcast Center.

Anyway, Brent comes back to me and has that excited look on his face. I had seen that look before while we had been on assignment at the Olympics in Turin. That look that said, he had found something better than our original story. I was to soon find out what a gem it really was.

We had arrived at the performance location I set up my sticks and waited. All at once a fellow with what looked like a over sized business suit and an odd hair style, lumbers up to the stage area. Hooks himself up to a hose and climbs up onto a seat at a work station.

Now this wasn't just any work station, this was a station that was elevated a couple of feet above a large children's wading pool. That's right a wading pool. He sat down and went lifeless.

Lifeless, our performer waits for someone to get on the bike

He sat motionless for a couple of moments. All at once a child sat up on a stationary bicycle that powered a pump. That pump was attached to a hose. That hose was attached to him.

All at once as the kid began to peddle, our performer came to life. Water spouting in every direction. He began to bark out some orders on a phone, his arms flailing about, water everywhere.

With a spray of water the performance begins

People looking on, taking in the spectacle. Laughter filled the air. Then suddenly as fast as it began, our spouting man loses energy. He slows and goes lifeless. The kid on the bike has worn himself out and is winded. Another takes his place and the performance continues. This cycle repeats itself. The crowd gathers, now there is a line up of children and even some adults at the bike.

One of the adults tries his luck at the bike/pump

The water continues to flow, our performer bangs away on his computer terminal, answers his phone and drinks from his spouting coffee cup. It is like a cartoon character from by-gone days. A poor schlep at his office, water flying, people laughing. It was the oddest performance I maybe have ever seen. Certainly one not to be forgotten.

Water spouting from everywhere including his work station

Now the genius is in the design of this as we were to find out in a post performance interview. He got the idea sitting on his couch watching TV. All of the equipment used is from Home Depot and IKEA. The office character is based on his very own father, a business man working in an office somewhere in Edmonton. It certainly is an odd way to make a living, spraying liquid laughter where ever he goes. His name- "The Human Fountain"

The Human Fountain

The Eyes of Chopper 9

Many regular visitors to this post know I spend a great deal of my time flying around hunting for stories from the air aboard a news gathering ship called Chopper 9. I have posted many photos or frame grabs of some of the stories that we have been to. Well now from the makers of "Blogger" a handy new button on the posting tool has enabled me to post video.

I know what you are saying. "Hey Putz, people have been posting videos on their blogs for a long time."
Yes you are correct. Bloggers like Turdpolisher and BeFrank have been doing this for some time. But I didn't have the time or the inclination to search out how such a magical feat could be executed. Blogger has now made it easy for techno "dummies" like me.

And so I present to you, my faithful reader a treat. My first video entry to World Wide Murman. A little thing I cut together some months ago. A look from my camera aboard Chopper 9.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Model Maker

The lineup to get a peek inside of CTV Chopper 9 at the Abbotsford Airshow this past weekend

For the past 3 years we have had our helicopter on a static display as part of the Abbotsford International Airshow. It is a show that runs over three days during the first full weekend of every August. In past years, aircraft of every shape and description find their way to the ramps of Abbotsford Airport and Chopper 9 is no different.

During the past 3 shows we have met thousands of people and given them a tour of Western Canada's first news gathering helicopter. Some have questions, most are excited to get an up close look and a hands on attempt at operating the FLIR camera. It's all in good fun and it helps us make a personal connection to our viewers. We give away hats and tee shirts give the kids fridge magnets and this year we introduced tattoos. A big hit with the kids. By the end of the weekend our crew's voices sound a bit on the raspy side, but it is worth it.

Last season I met a gentleman who introduced himself as a model maker. His name is Duncan. During the course of our conversation he told me he had given up his career to follow his passion for building hi end aircraft desk models.

Duncan the Model Maker speaking to a potential client as he explains how he crafts his creations

Duncan was beginning his new business and was using the opportunity of having hundreds of aviation people in one place to make as many contacts as he could. He presented me with his card and asked me about the possibility of producing a scale model of our very own Chopper 9. I was of course interested. I gave him the VIP tour of the machine and he showed me photos of some of his work.
There were photos of Planes and helicopters all finely detailed and decaled. We shook hands and agreed to make contact after the Airshow weekend.
Over the next few months we had exchanged phone calls and emails. He came to the hangar to take some photos and some measurements. "There was no rush" I had told him, as he was making this one on spec. He had many paying clients that had deadlines and like any business you need to look after your clients.
Duncan would email and tell me of his progress. I know he wanted this one to be a one of a kind item. Eventually I get a call and it's done. He and I had agreed on a price and a pick up. He told me he had kept his molds and he would be able to make more if required.

The "Quality Scale Models" kiosk at the Abbotsford Airshow this past weekend

When I went to pick it up, he opened the box and there it was. An incredible scale model of Chopper 9. I could not wipe the grin off my face. He went and showed me some of the detail he worked into the piece. A FLIR camera that moved. Main and Tail rotors that turned. The tubing that went from each float on the skid to the underbelly tank. All that and it was mounted to look like it was flying. Not to mention the detailing of the decals. Wow.

Well I had hoped that when the brass saw this beautiful replica they would be jumping all over it, wanting one for clients or perhaps for themselves. But it was not to be. At least not then.

Duncan was at the Airshow again this year. This time with his own kiosk, many of his fine pieces on display for potential buyers. In his book of photos there's a model, yes my model of CTV Chopper 9. I own it with pride.

Our Model of THU Chopper 9 created by Duncan

If you would like more information about Duncan and his work you can drop me a line and I would be happy to hook you up.

Monday, July 30, 2007


It has taken me a couple of days to wrap my head around what happened in Phoenix on Friday. Two working News Gathering Helicopters collided mid-air, killing both crews. They had been covering a police chase on the ground below. Both going live at the time of the accident.

The crews, were not unlike the people who crew Chopper 9 or Global One. Although I did not know any of the victims personally or professionally, they no doubt loved doing what we love doing- hunting news stories from the sky. This sad event has left us all searching for answers. Answers of how could this happen, yet we all knew it was only a matter of time before it would happen somewhere in North America. Answers for why we do it with all the risks associated with helicopter flight.

I am sure when this accident is analyzed and investigated it will expose some of the weakness in the way news is gathered from the sky. No doubt there will be many recommendations when it is all said and done. Can the industry learn? I certainly hope so.

There have been several items posted about this horrible event. You can find them by following this link: News Choppers Down In Phoenix

Friday, July 27, 2007


Wednesday, we learned of a story of great courage, sacrifice and sadness. It was about a man of unbelievable and unquestionable character. He and his family, were enjoying a pleasant day on vacation. Enjoying the water, cooling off on what was no doubt a typical summers day. But this day would be different.

The man's son found himself in some difficulty in the water. There was a strong current, the boy was in danger. With a father's instinct and without hesitation, he went to the boy's rescue. Dad couldn't swim a stroke. He saved the boy, but in doing so, gave his own life.


That man was Kenny Lim. Kenny worked at my station as a Graphic Artist in our News Department. He was one of the original people who helped build and sign on this station 10 years ago. I regret that I was not as close to Kenny as some in the building. But Kenny always had a grin on his face when ever we spoke in the hall or in the elevator. During my all too few conversations with him, I learned he was a Boy Scout Leader and all round nice fellow. He was devoted to his three children and his wife.

Kenny Lim 1960-2007

I know that all of us at CTV Vancouver are richer having known a man, an artist, a father- Kenny Lim.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Flame Out!

My Vacation ended with a phone call on Saturday. I called to make arrangements to pick up my gear for Monday and lo and behold, the voice on the other end of the phone said " You know, you're on the sched for today."

Shit, what time was I supposed to start?"

Well the long and short of it was I began my first day back, a couple of hours late.

Monday brought a return to flight operations for me. Lately the breaking news factor has been a little lean as far as flight ops has been concerned. Surely it would have to change, and soon. With Kink away on holidays, I would be teamed with Kate for the week.

Sitting waiting , scanning, can ware you down. Monday was no different. It was hot and humid. The scanners were quiet and Kate was working the phones to dig something up to sell for the shows. It was looking like the TV News Gods would not smile on us that day.

On days like that, there can be little to pass the time except watch the activity on Runway 26 left as aircraft rolled for takeoff. And this is what I was doing as I listened to scanner chatter wishing for something that would involve flight and a slot in the 5 and the 6.

As I watched a Korean Airlines Boeing 777 position itself at the threshold of 26 left, the sound of Kate's fingers clicking on the laptop computer filled the room. Our office overlooks the runway and I was standing looking our the large picture window at the aircraft. The 777 is considered a "heavy" aircraft and the heavy's aways are fun to watch on takeoff. I know hard to believe after four years out here and I still get a kick out of watching a routine take off.
But this would not be a routine takeoff.

As the massive plane began to thunder down the runway. It was picking up speed to become airborne. Suddenly out of the left engine shoots a flame partway down towards it's tail. My first thought was "wow that's some afterburner".

Then a loud bang, which shook the windows of our hangar office. It got Kate's attention. Flames still shooting out of the engine, I thought"this is not right"

The plane began to break and slow. The entire event maybe lasted 5 seconds. I had seen it all. I grabbed my DSLR and banged off a few frames as the aircraft came to a stop on a taxi way just off of the runway.

This shot taken just seconds after I saw the flame shoot out the rear of the engine in the picture. The plane is at this moment trying to break and slow to get itself off the runway.

Wow. I told Kate I was going to the truck to grab my tripod. As I sprinted to the parking lot I called our desk.
This shot as the pilots steer the massive plane off the runway to an adjacent taxiway.

"Gregg, Murman" I said huffing and puffing.

"The scanners are about to light up, this is what's happening,,,," I told him what I saw and that I was going to roll from the ground. We had decided that if the passengers were to be evacuated where the plane now was stopped on the taxiway, then we would launch the chopper and do a fly over as we exited the airport.

When I returned to the office I set up and rolled on the stricken plane. There was no fire and emergency teams had not yet arrived.

When they did, they assessed the situation and since the fire was out, they inspected the engine on the taxiway. After several minutes the aircraft moved on it's own power to a gate for passenger egress.

Needless to say, I am sure there were some very grateful people glad to be off that particular plane.The jet as it comes to a full stop on the taxiway fortunately there were no injuries or further fire to the the aircraft.

It certainly gave us something to sell for the 5 and 6.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Nope I'm not Dead, Dead Tired Maybe.

Much time has pasted since I sat down to put thought to words. There has been much that has transpired, but inspiration has failed me. In that time I have marvelled at how photog scribes like Stuart Lenslinger Pittman have cranked it out day after day almost effortless. Yes they too run into those days of writers block, but manage to overcome and deliver.
It is done with practice and commitment. Both I have been lacking in recent weeks. Hopefully a well earned vacation away from everything has recharged and re-energized me.

For all of you who have been dropping by to see if I am still alive,,,, I thank you. I return to Flight duty on Monday and with any luck there will be much to write about.

Monday, June 04, 2007


This is a story about Butterscotch. Not the stuff you put on an ice cream sundae, but rather a bear. Not just any kinda bear, a Grizzley. It all began for me and the crew of Chopper 9 a couple of weeks ago in a town located at about the halfway point between Vancouver and the ski resort town of Whistler.
We had been called early to warn us of a possible mission to Squamish. It seems a bear had decided that after a long winters nap, some fixin's in the town was what a bear needed to get his "playin' weight up, so as the season progresses, he could play with the "lady" bears. The bear had wondered into town, and as it was garbage pickup day, scared the bejesus out of some poor schlep takin' out his trash. What made this unique was, this bear was a Grizzley Bear. There had not been a Grizzley sighting in the town for more that 10 years.

Our "mission" was to fly up to Squamish, and get some shots of this creature. The sighting was several hours old when we got the call, so seeing the beast would be slim at best. Kink and I did a couple of orbits around the directions we had been given, and decided to land at the airport and make some calls to the local Conservation Officer. We learned that we had been orbiting the wrong area,,, what else is new,,,,but were told that the officers were about to bait a live trap.
"Hold on" Kink said , "we'll be right there!"
We hopped a cab and went directly to the sight where the officers were getting the trap ready. I was able to get some good trap shots, the bait and of course the neighbourhood of which there was supposed to be much "fear and loathing". A quick clip with a Conservation Officer and we were on our way. It would make a quick buck thirty. (one minute, thirty seconds, for you who don't understand news-speak)

Chopper 9 at the Squamish Airport during our first Bear mission

As we flew off, I figured that this would be the last of my involvement in this story as the following day would demonstrate. A ground based crew was dispatched to do the follow up story.
The bear was sighted again on day two and just as our crew went to air, word that it had been hit by a tranquilizer dart from the business end of a Conservation Officer's rifle. Yes the town could breath easy now. Goldie Lockes would be safe. End of the story,,,,, No.

Again the call came early, another mission to the Squamish area. Seems the folks at the Conservation Office have invited us to see the release of the wayward bear into the wilderness. Damn, that would be cool. I have never in all the years of shooting had I seen the release of a bear. Hell, in all the years of shooting, I have never seen a bear let alone a Grizzley, in the wild. All I had to do now was to get to the airport as fast as I could as they were due to release the beast at around 10:30 am. It was now 8:40 and I was still 30 minutes away from the airport. To make the race even more interesting was four factors. One: The flight up to the release point would take more than an hour. Two: The only communication in the area we were going was by SAT phone. Three: Kink was taking a day off, so I would be working with our newly acquired flight reporter, Kate. And finally our pilot for the day was unfamiliar with the area. It could be a great story and a fun one to shoot to boot, or it could end in disappointment and well for lack of a better term, shame.

When we all had arrived at the hangar pretty much at the same moment, the situation looked good. We spooled up and we're on our way. The flight to our rendezvous was filled with a nervous excitement. We knew that we really, really wanted this. We also knew that our competitors didn't have it. Kate wanted to hit the long ball on one of her first missions. Guiv our pilot just wanted to get there without getting us lost. Yes there was tension that day my friends. I glanced at my watch, it would be close. We entered a valley with steep mountians on each side, following the river as directed. Guiv watching the GPS. We followed the road as far as it went, where were they? Had we passed them?
Another check of the watch, we are going to miss it, damn! I could sense Kate was on the edge of her seat. We turned around fuel was now a concern. We would have enough to get ourselves to the Squamish airport. I decided to call the desk and break the bad news when we landed.
Fergus our man on the desk and the person coordinating this mission told me that he had just got off the phone with the Conservation team. It seems they were delayed. He gives me their SAT phone number and we coordinate. After getting directions and comparing them to a topo map, it appears we had headed up the wrong valley where the river had split. On our second attempt we would not make that same mistake.

Chopper 9 and crew off for a second attempt to rendezvous with the release team

Finally we make visual contact with the release team on the ground. Guiv skillfully positions the aircraft for my best shots. The team on the ground flashes their emergency lights, indicating the release is imminent. I just hope my tape is rolling. I double check, they are both rolling.

With the trap in position, Conservation Officer, Dave with bean bag rifle in hand prepares to open the trap.

Then all at once, the bear is released. At first the beast pokes it's head out from the trap and looks around.
The bear taking its first tentative steps and casing his surroundings

Then seeing the coast is clear begins to walk, then stops, lingering to look at his former captors.

The moment just before he gets hit in the butt with a bean bag shot

Suddenly a well placed bean bag shot to the ass, gets old Butterscotch in a full run away from the trap and the release team. He sprints up the mountain looking back to see what just hit him.

Haulin' ass up the mountian

The officers fire a "whiz bang" over his head and he continues to get the hell out of Dodge. In a post release interview, the officers told us that they wanted to make the release and the bears encounter with man as "unpleasant" as possible so as to deter the bear from future encounters with people.

The bear gives the Helicopter the evil eye as I continue to roll tape

Having become bored with flying machines and the tasty creatures within, Mr. Bear begins his search for a stiff drink

One of the last looks before he went into the woods for good, we can only hope he'll keep out of trouble

The biologist on the release team told us that this bear had been tagged before. This was it's second release. The first time had been a year or so ago. His colleague's daughter had named the bear at the time "Butterscotch". So instead of a number on an ear tag, this bear had a name. The biologist had also hoped that Butterscotch would not return to the town, as it would likely mean the bear would be destroyed. His hope was he would become more interested in the Lady bears than easy food in the town.

The Grizzley Biologist, Dave the Conservation Officer and Kate during the post release interview. We had landed on a sand bar on the Elaho River some miles away from the release site.

Guiv our pilot, happy to have delivered us to the story.

Newest crew member Kate Gajdosik poses on the sand bar with the machine

It has been almost three weeks since the release. I have not heard of a Grizzley back in Squamish. Lets hope that Butterscotch is livin' large with the girls in the mountians.

It was a cool shoot.