Utility Helicopters on the Columbia

No flying for me this week, but I did get to go watch a pair of helicopters setting high voltage transmission lines. Out here, wind and hydroelectric power is pretty easy to come by, and most days you can see trains or trucks moving the components for wind turbines east. With that, there’s the need for expanding transmission capabilities. Getting power lines along the Columbia River Gorge back to the west side is a challenge because of rough, remote terrain. In this area, it’s easiest to do it with helicopters.

I watched an Erickson Skycrane setting the steel transmission towers. An MD500 orbited the area, checking out the set before the Skycrane released the tower, then moving to the next base to make sure it was ready for the upper part of the tower. Check out the downwash from the Skycrane…these towers are >200 feet high, and the Skycrane is easily kicking dust up. Later in the afternoon, a couple of F15s did a low-level pass over the river before pulling up and cutting back to the north. Not many days you can see a Skycrane and jets doing what they do best.