Sunday, February 04, 2007


Like all of my flight weeks, last week time passed quickly. I had been given a heads up on Friday that we would need to be in the air early on Monday so as to tag along with a team of GVRD water shed staff as they measured the snow pack up on the mountains. The story has been done before, but any excuse to go mountain flying was always welcome. It certainly was something to look forward to after a week at the Pickton Trial. As luck would have it I would be spending the weekend with my brother visiting from New Jersey and my son, skiing up at Whitsler/ Blackcomb so Monday's assignment on the snow pack would kinda be an extension enjoying mountain air.

The thing I did not expect was the weather at sea level, hence at YVR to be so, well foggy. Fog could screw a weeks flying very very quickly. It can hang around for days and make VFR flying out of YVR impossible. But as luck would have it, the folks at Talon Helicopters had a plan. That plan was to relocate operations away from the fog at the airport. Those operations also included Chopper 9 and with that we began our week of flight ops high in the mountains at our "secret mountain lair". From there we would be able to fly above the fog bank that seemed to plague the Vancouver International Airport and parts of the Frasier River.

A blanket of fog covers all but the tops of the sky scrapers over Vancouver. Off in the distance YVR is completely socked in.

Those of you not familiar with the topography of our area, the international airport is located at the mouth of the Frasier river. The fog at this time of the year can just sit around the waters edge or drift inland and shut down the VFR operations in and out of YVR. The fog builds overnight and usually burns off in the afternoon. This week it would burn off in most parts but all local airports had problems. It would affect our competitors ability to fly.

the "secret mountain lair" Location: Secret

Of course above the fog at our "secret mountain lair" it was beautiful and clear sunshine. Perfect for mountain flying. Our mission with the Survey team would be to follow them up to one of the measuring stations and shoot some material on the ground with them. Then we would get some air to air shots of the team as they went to a second station.

The survey team takes to the sky with Brian Douglas at the controls

The survey team would be transported via helicopter to these locations. Kink and I would also be flown in. We would not use Chopper 9 for the first part of our mission as since she is a heavy flying machine and the landing zones at the survey sites are limited, Kink and I would take a ride in one of Talon's ASTAR's. It was kinda fun to be flying around in a regular utility heli.

Kink gets the front seat AGAIN as we fly into meet up with the survey team

I got the front seat on the return flight as my flight station aboard Chopper 9 in in back. Pilot Brian Douglas at the controls.

There was nothing unusual about this shoot. Pretty routine really. But as all mountain flying, the vistas were breath taking. I never get tired of it.

All the machines back at the "secret mountain lair"

The week had began with such promise. The weather improved to the extent a decision was made to return to Talon base back a YVR on Tuesday. The weather had suckered us in. By Wednesday, it was back to fog and this time there was no window to allow us to escape back to our "secret mountain lair". Wednesday produced zero flight time. This suddenly had the makings of a crappy week on the flight rotation.
Thursday brought a scene call, but the weather again closed in and scrubbed flight ops for our shows.
Now going into Friday, the flight hour count was barely 5 hours for the week and I was facing another week of the Trial next week. What had I done to the flying gods, to the TV gods to produce so little in flight,,,,,

Friday was better, there were, a story, scene calls and of course the shows. A descent day really and although the week would yeild less than 10 flight hours, it was a respectable total for a week of fog.


Doug said...

Thanks for keeping me connected to the fun behind the scenes back at home. Although, truth be told, I'm not missing the Pickton trial one bit!

-Doug in Ghana

Widescreen said...

What kind of safety training do you do for helicopter work.

Do you do HUET?

Murman said...

Hi Widescreen,
Our crew has completed an Underwater Egress course also known as "Dunker Training".
The training teaches us to escape a submerged aircraft and basic high seas survival.
You can eamil me for more information.