Friday, January 04, 2008

Silver Lined Clouds?

A look to the north from YVR- The cloud shroud over the North Shore Mountains

The first week back after the holidays began with the promise of flight. Yes sir, Murman was back, assigned to flight operations for the week. Now if only the News Gods would cooperate and present us with some fine news gathering from the sky. The only things that could screw this week was weather and a silent scanner.

Winter flying is less than predictable. Systems coming off the Pacific can last for days or they come at you in rapid succession. Either way it means messy flying. We were tasked to get some pics to support a story about "out of bounds" hikers/skiers and snowboarders. Every year, search and rescue organizations are busy with folks that believe the rules of the resorts don't apply to them, who head out of bounds. The result: a search, sometimes a rescue more often than not, a recovery. The irresponsibility of these thrill seekers and self proclaimed extreme adventures, puts others at risk who are tasked to "rescue" them.
Local ski area Grouse Mountain had just the night before, dispatched the North Shore Search and Rescue team to search for a father and son snowboarding duo who ignored the signs and decided to head into the back country. They were rescued. Safe. This of course precipitated the interest for our desk to do a story about the problem.

Cloud and fog atop Grouse Mountain as I snap this shot of the Lodge out the window of Chopper 9

Our mission was to get up to Grouse and get some shots, but the weather had cloaked the North Shore Mountains in low cloud. The forecast called for clearing as the day progressed. So we waited. The clouds lifted just enough to attempt a flight just as our trusty scanner alerted us to a house fire which coincidentally was on route to Grouse. The desk always liked a "two-fer" and this flight would provide two for the price of one.

When we arrived the building was fully involved. A good visual, but bad for the occupants of the dwelling below. Holiday fires suck. We did a couple of good orbits and then headed off to Grouse. The clouds had dropped, but our pilot continued and we were able to get enough shots of the area to meet the needs of the story being done back at 750 Burrard, as we dodged clouds.

A hole in the clouds reveals part of the ski area of Grouse Mountian

There were no flight operations for New Years day, but a late breaking event in Whistler on New Years day, dominated the casts. An out of bounds incident had ended in death. This would set the agenda for the next couple of days.
Surely we would be dispatched to Whistler to get some shots from the air of the accident area. Mother nature would not cooperate. And Wednesday was spent checking the weather conditions and providing updates for the desk every 30 minutes. On the home front, the scanner had provided us with a couple of potential sorties, but by the time we had established a departure code and buckled in, we would get stood down by the desk as the story had "gone away".

The day would yield no flight time. Disappointing considering the potential the day had begun with. But such are the ways of the News Gathering Camera Op. It's either feast or famine and here it was Wednesday it was looking like it would be a lean week, and my hunger for the hunt would have to wait until my next tour.

An increasingly unfavorable weather forecast sealed the deal. I guess it is not meant for us to be in the air. Thursday brought more low cloud over the mountains and the weather gods threw in some wind. Fun stuff. A late day call out for a search up on Mount Seymour sent us out to have a look. A most uncomfortable flight. Chopper 9 is not exactly a graceful bird in the wind. Being in the back seat staring at 5 inch monitors, trying to focus in the rain, on a search helicopter in fading light, being bounced about, ya that's fun.

Talon Helicopters launches to assist North Shore Search and Rescue for a search on Mount Seymour

I can report that no lunches were lost in the making of the Search tape for air that evening. Thank God, I would never live it down from the others on the crew.

The cloud blanket over Vancouver as we head back after the Mount Seymour mission.

The wind today has returned, so has the rain and the ever present Low Cloud. No silver linings that I can detect, but the day is not over.


Jack Zhang said...

Way to put a "Spin" on a typical Vancouver dull day...

Very nice photos, Just wish to see a sunset from the air on a low cloud/fog day... That would be a wondershot.

Tory said...

Beautiful photos. Enjoyed your blog.
Take care