Sunday, August 19, 2012


It has been a lean year when it comes to me and quality flight time aboard good ol' Chopper 9. These lulls come in cycles. Sometimes they last a week, sometimes longer. Helicopter repairs, camera repairs,   Microwave problems, 100 hour inspections, budget considerations and other assignments have fallen on many of my flight weeks in the past twelve months. At one point I wondered if I would ever enjoy flying again.
Thankfully these things come to an end eventually and my last flight rotation marked that end. For a couple of days I thought the good old days of flight were back. The assignments were not anything to get too excited about, and a couple didn't make air, but they did put a smile on this old puss and reminded me just how fortunate I am when it is all said and done.

Last week happened to be Air Show week at nearby Abbotsford. Some of you may remember a story about Mach Daddy from the days which we would be a participant of the Air Show. Now times are different and when I got the call to head on out to Abby and "shoot the Snow Birds as they fly in" as a potential VO for 5 and 6, I knew we would be in for a treat.

When we arrived into Abbotsford airspace, the tower informed us that they had not heard of an ETA for the Snow Bird Team. I spotted a USAF C-5 on approach to Runway 26. I rolled my disc and double X'd my FLIR onto the turning aircraft. I never get tired of shooting air to air especially when the subject is something you do not see in these parts very often.

The tower gave us clearance to land on a helipad away from the tower and ramp where aircraft were beginning to be positioned for the upcoming show. I rolled on the big winged beast as it touched down and taxied toward it's parking spot.

As the massive aircraft lumbered along the taxi way, we came in on final to our landing pad assignment. We shut down and I called the desk to fill them in on what I had and that the principle intended target, the CF Snow Birds were at least 45 minutes out from the airport. The desk told me that they would rather we not stay and wait but rather head back so we could fly during our suppertime show. And that the powers that be no say that the show is rather full so the VO would likely get dropped.
I was told that we could hang for 15 minutes but then we would have to head back to Vancouver.
Well at least we got a flight to Abby and we did see something you don't see every day. So on a personal level not a total loss. I asked Stef, my pilot to call the tower and begin the process of getting a window to depart back for YVR. When he powered me back on in the back, he told me that there are now two CF 18's inbound and that the tower wants us to stay on the ground until they are down. Needless to say I roll another disc as the fighters fly low level around the airfield. They are surveying the "show line" for references in preparation for the upcoming airshow.

Stef asks for a take off and a holding position so we can shoot this unexpected Fighter show. To my delight the tower granted our request and we were now operating at 200 ft and below watching the Fighters strut their stuff.
It was good to work the camera on a fast moving aircraft. It had been far too long and to see that I could still keep the fighters in frame with the double X, well lets just say it was satisfying.

The kicker to the story was the VO never went to air, other content from the days events bumped it off the show. But for kicks and giggles, and to bone up my new found skills in the world of Final Cut, I but together this little video for you to enjoy. I hope you like it.